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1~ IV 


Latham's "Johnson's Dictionary." 

North British Review, December, 1864. 

The Greek and English Quarrel. 

The Times, February, 1 850. 

The Story of Free Trade. 

Eraser's Magazine, June, 1851. 

How we were all Vaccinated. 

The New Gazette, April, 1871, 

Magnus the Good and Harold Hardrada.. 

North British Review, November, 1863. 

Harold Haedrada, King of Norway. 

North British Review, February, 1864. 

Pickings from Poggio, 

Once a Year, December, 1868, 



"An English Dictionary/' How much is ex- 
pressed in those three words. But wide as they 
are, there are three which are still wider — " The 
English Language." No dictionary can contain 
the English language; the most that the best 
can do is to attempt to exhibit a fair sample of 
the golden grain garnered in the storehouse of 
English speech. The English language— what a 
stately tree upheld by many roots ! In that one 
tongue how many have merged their utterance. 
All the known races that have held this soil of 
Britain have left their mark behind them. First 
came the Britons. Some few words of daily 
use, many names of places, many a hill and 
river, many a surname of high and low, form 

* "A Dictionary of the English Language," by Robert Gordon 
Latham, M.A., M.D., F.R.S., &c. Founded on that of Dr. Samuel 
Johnson, as edited by the Rev. H. J. Todd, M.A. With numerous 
Emendations and Additions. To be completed in 36 parts. Parts 
I. to VI. London, 1864. 



the tiny upland rill, the glistening silver thread 
of Celtic speech, which serves as a clue to lead 
us to the very end of this philological labyrinth. 
Next came the Romans, and on our native soil 
threw up those ramparts and roads and walled 
camps, which still in ruins tell the tale of their 
strong hand, and to which many a Latin name 
or ending still clings. They came, they ruled, 
they left the land, and Britain was still Celtic 
in speech, though even then no doubt her dialect 
was laced with many a Teutonic word learned 
from the German colonists, which the Romans 
had brought in as mercenary soldiers, but who 
remained as settlers. After the Roman legions 
left the Britons to themselves, there is darkness 
over the face of the land from the fifth to the 
eighth century. Those are really our dark ages. 
From 420, when it is supposed that Honorius 
withdrew his troops, to 730, when Bede wrote 
his History, we see nothing of British history. 
Afar off we hear the shock of arms, but all is 
dim, as it were, when two mighty hosts do battle 
in the dead of night. When the dawn comes 
and the black veil is lifted, we find that Britain 
has passed away. The land is now England ; 
the Britons themselves, though still strong in 
many parts of the country, have been gene- 
rally worsted by their foes ; they have lost 
that great battle which has lasted through three 


centuries. Their Arthur has come and gone ; 
he lies at Glastonbury, never again to turn the 
heady fight. Henceforth Britain has no hero, 
and merely consoles herself with the hope that 
he will one day rise and restore the fortunes of 
his race. But though there were many battles 
in that dreary time, and many Arthurs, it was 
rather in the everyday battle of life, in that long 
unceasing struggle which race wages with race, 
not sword in hand alone, but«by brain and will 
and feeling, that the Saxons won the mastery of 
the land. Little by little, more by stubbornness 
and energy than by bloodshed, they spread 
themselves over the country, working towards a 
common unity, from every shore. If the Britons 
stood in their way they threw them out; but 
the Britons had learned from their Roman lords 
to build towns and to dwell in them. The 
Saxons loathed cities ; " they loved better to 
hear the lark sing than the mouse cheep ;" and 
thus there was room for a long time for two 
races who had little in common, and rarely 
crossed each other's path. In all likelihood the 
din of the battles between Celt and Saxon, with 
which those gloomy centuries are full, rose 
rather towards their close, when the Saxons had 
multiplied and grown to be a great power in 
Britain, and the settlers' seven kingdoms of the 
Heptarchy had so eaten their way into the 


waste, as to know that they formed a Saxon 
Confederation. However that may be, certain 
it is, that for a long time after the time of Bede, 
and therefore undoubtedly before his day, the 
Celtic and Saxon kings in various parts of the 
island lived together on terms of perfect equality, 
and gave and took their respective sons and 
daughters to one another in marriage. Hence 
it is that we find Saxon princes with Celtic 
names and vice versa ; and hence it was that 
many a word was borrowed by either speech, 
and soon passed as good Saxon or Celtic, as the 
case might be, after it had undergone the pro- 
cess of mastication, if we may be allowed the 
word, that alteration and attrition, whether it be 
in accent or in form, which every foreign word 
must undergo before the tongue which is about 
to make it its own, will consent to swallow and 
digest it. 

But though this lasted some time, it was not 
to be always so. In language as in race the 
rule holds that the weakest must go to the wall. 
The Saxons were the strongest. They began by 
winning their way to being equal with the Celts, 
they ended by overpowering them altogether. 
This struggle for supremacy was prolonged for 
some time during the twilight in our history 
called the Saxon Heptarchy ; but towards the 
close of that period the Saxons had mastered 


their foes, who henceforth are found only in the 
mountainous ridges and holes and corners of 
the land. In Egbert's time the Saxons are 
really lords in England. Had there been purists 
and precisians in those days, we may fancy 
some Priscian or Varro undertaking to weed the 
native field of Saxon speech of the Celtic 
growths which had been sown broadcast over it 
when the two races walked and strove upon it 
face to face. But even without the help of such 
learned labourers, no doubt many Celtic grafts on 
Saxon stems then dwindled and died out, simply 
because the fellowship which had first begotten 
and then nursed and fostered them was cut off. 

But as the Celts withdraw from the front of 
the stage, and henceforth merely fill up the 
scene as a background, another race steps for- 
ward, the most forward and daring that the 
world has ever known ; and while it avenges 
the wrongs of the Celts, leaves the Saxons 
neither power nor leisure to become purists in 
their native speech. These are the Northern 
nations, the Scandinavian stock, Northmen, 
Norsemen, Danes, call them what you will : in- 
vaders from every bay and firth between the 
Eyder * and the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic on 

* Egidora, oriEgir's Door, the gate through which the god JEgir, 
the Neptune of the North, made his inroads into the goddess 
Earth's domain. 


the one side, or as far up as the Lofoden Isles in 
the Icy Sea, on the other side of the Scandinavian 
Peninsula. The proper name of these invaders 
was" Viking/' because vik, which in their common 
speech meant " bay," and which lingers in our 
Sandwich, Berwick, and Greenwich, gave them 
at once an ambush, a shelter, and a name. They 
are said to have landed in England first of all 
about the time of Egbert, who had bloody fights 
with them, just as they are said to have landed 
in France first of all in the latter days of Charle- 
magne ; but this merely means that then it was 
they became so troublesome as to merit the 
attention of the king and to deserve a public 
chastisement. For all through those times it 
was common for the younger sons of kings or 
chiefs, denied advancement at home by those 
peculiar institutions which regarded kings and 
chiefs only as the first of freemen at home, and 
so curtailed their power, except in time of war 
abroad, to leave their own land followed by 
bands of adventurous youth, whose first act on 
putting to sea was to hail their young leader 
as a sea-king. So the Vikings visited every 
shore in Europe, and as piracy has ever been an 
honourable calling in early states of society, 
there were many Vikings besides those of Scan- 
dinavia, though these, as the most daring, have 
eclipsed the deeds of all the rest. So it has ever 


been, and so it will ever be. " Vixere fortes 
ante Agamemnona" at all times and in all ages ; 
but as he has outshone them all in glory, he is 
remembered and they are all forgotten. 

From the days of Egbert to the Conquest the 
annals of England are fast bound to those of the 
Northern kingdoms : bound often with chains, 
" fast bound in misery and iron." We think of 
Alfred, and our hearts burn within us as we call 
to mind the hero who first freed his country 
from a foreign yoke, and then sat down at once 
as her teacher, lawgiver, and King; but even 
Alfred's genius and fortune were only able to 
save a portion of England from the clutch of 
the invader, whose chiefs, like the hydra's heads, 
seem to grow sevenfold for every one that fell to 
the ground. Before Alfred's time the Northmen 
had seated themselves firmly in Northumberland, 
and with Alfred, in the case of Guthrum-Athel- 
stane, began the fatal system of buying off the 
hostility of the invaders by ceding them a por- 
tion of Saxon soil as an everlasting settlement. 
From the days of Alfred, East Anglia remained 
more or less a Northern settlement, and even 
before his days, Northumbria was as good as 
lost. He did his best against the foe, and his 
best was better than any other man's ; but all 
he could do was to check, though in nowise 
to break the fury of the Vikings. Nor was 


Athelstane's glory much greater. He was never 
really master of what was nominally called his 
kingdom, and even his victory on the bloody 
field of Brunanburgh, splendid as it was, is only 
another proof of the power of the Northmen, 
whose forces, combined with those of the Bri- 
tish, could meet the great King with so terrible 
a host, which Athelstane could only conquer by 
the aid of Northern auxiliaries. But if we are 
forced to say this of Alfred and Athelstane, 
what shall we say of such characters as Edmund 
the First, who agreed to share England with 
that Anlaf or Olaf whom his brother Athelstane 
had so signally defeated at Brunanburgh ; of the 
priest-ridden Edred; of Edwy, who was not 
priest-ridden, inasmuch as he drove Dunstan 
out, but who did little else during his short 
reign; of Edgar the Peaceable, who recalled 
Dunstan and built about fifty monasteries, whose 
dutifulness to the Church seems to have excused 
the lust with which he dragged a nun from her 
convent, as well as his marriage with Elfrida, 
whose husband he murdered ? But he was a 
great king, and eight tributary princes rowed 
him in a barge on the river Dee ! Then came 
Edward, whom Elfrida murdered at Corfe Castle; 
and last of all came Ethelred the Unready, the 
man void of counsel or of plan, whose first 
weapon against the Danes was gold — ten thou- 


sand pounds weight of gold, thirty thousand 
pounds weight of gold — and his next the mid- 
night massacre of St. Brice's Day, November 13, 
1002 : a foul deed, which brought the whole 
force of Denmark on unhappy England, and 
began a struggle in which the treacherous King 
himself, betrayed by Edric Streon and other 
traitors, had to fly to Normandy, leaving England 
to Canute the Great. True he returned again, 
while Canute was called away for a while to 
look after his dominions in the North ; but it was 
only to fly before Canute on his return, and to 
die, after having reigned, to the great misery of 
England, for thirty-five years. Edmund Ironside 
was a man of better spirit, breathed into him by 
his Norman mother, Emma ; but his reign was 
too short to do any good. Then England fell 
wholly into Danish hands, and Canute ruled it, 
every inch a king, for nineteen years. The two 
sots, his two sons by different mothers, Harold 
Harefoot and Hardicanute, both ruled, and both 
drank themselves to death. Then came Edward 
the Confessor, the saint, the ascetic, the every- 
thing but king and lawgiver, the man of dreams 
and visions, of church-building and endowments, 
who would rob his mother and who did rob his 
mother to found a church ; who spent part of 
his wretched life in looking for the millennium, 
and the rest in weeping that it would not come ; 


who never could forgive the world for having 
lasted sixty years beyond the thousand, at the 
expiration of which it was forethought, if not 
foretold, that it must come to an end, and who 
must have felt like the astronomers who pre- 
dicted the return of the great comet of 1556 in 
1856, and have still neither forgiven it for not 
coming back, nor abandoned all hope that after 
all it may perhaps repent and return. 

After Edward came Harold, in whom, half 
Northman as he was — his mother was a sister of 
Ulf Jarl of Denmark, and King Sweyn, the son 
of Ulf, was his first cousin — the long line of 
faineans Saxon Kings expired with a flash of 
light. Then came the Conquest, but at the 
Conquest England was more than half-Scandi- 
navian. Besides the great district of Northum- 
bria, which reached, it must be remembered, far 
across the border into Scotland, and the pro- 
vince of East Anglia, where the Scandinavian 
stock was fast settled, their nationality reached 
as far south as Derby and Rugby in the very 
heart of Mercia ; and all over the land the 
speech of the people was laced and patched 
with Northern words and idioms. Even setting 
aside these ethnological facts, the dialect of the 
contemporary chronicles shows that quite apart 
from external influences the vernacular Anglo- 
Saxon before the Conquest was undergoing that 


change which all languages suffer in obedience 
to an internal law. After the Conquest the 
mother-tongue of the people was banished from 
Court and public life, and fled in exile to the 
woods and fields. There it stubbornly maintained 
its ground, but debased and degraded, though 
vulgar, strong, and healthy, while the lordly 
Norman prolonged a sickly existence in the close 
air of walled town and gloomy castle. Thus 
each continued to exist apart so long as the 
Norman barons looked to Rouen as their capital, 
and the duchy won by Hrolf Ganger from the 
Carlovingians as their true home. We jump in 
retrospect at results, and fancy because Duke 
William overthrew Harold he made England a 
Norman land; but in that sense he never won 
England ; nay, it may rather be said of the 
Normans that they were at last subdued by their 
serfs. From William till John the Norman 
barons strove to subdue the land and held it as 
foreigners. In John's time they ceased to be 
aliens, England then lost her possessions in 
France, the Norman barons began to look on 
England as their home, the languages began 
to mix, and the fusion of speech which had 
scarcely begun at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century was almost complete in the fourteenth- 
Hitherto there had been a debased Anglo-Saxon 
literature fast falling into semi-Saxon, and a 


cultivated courtly Norman-French literature, of 
each of which Layamon andWace maybe taken 
as the two representatives. In all Layamon's 
lengthy alliterative poem there are scarcely 
more Norman words to be found than can be 
proved to have been current in Anglo-Saxon in 
the days of Edward the Confessor, and Wace's 
Norman has few Saxon words. The Conquest 
then had little direct influence at first on the 
vernacular dialects in England. We say dia~ 
lects, for besides the West Saxon form of speech 
which had been the language of literature and 
the Court, there was the Northumbrian or Scan- 
dinavian dialect in the North and East. The 
first suffered most by the degradation of the 
vernacular which followed the Conquest ; it was 
expelled from Court, and lost its precedence, 
and was thus placed on a level with the Northum- 
brian, East Anglian, and other provincial dia- 
lects. The result of the Conquest was a general 
scramble of all these forms of speech for pre- 
cedence, a struggle for mastery more or less 
desultory, but which, after centuries, has ended 
in our modern English, which presents to those 
who read it aright a wonderful blending of those 
various dialects, in which no one quite won the 
day over the other, but in which the Northumbrian 
on the whole had the mastery over the West 
Saxon, and that not only in conjugation and 


construction, but even in accent and pronuncia- 
tion. A dialect which was so powerful as to 
supplant many of the West Saxon forms of the 
verb to be, to throw them out of the philological 
nest, and bring in its own offspring, must have 
been strong indeed ; and yet this is just the way 
in which the Northumbrian cuckoo — or " gowk," 
as the bird would be called beyond the Humber 
—has treated the West Saxon hedge-sparrow in 
regard to the verb-substantive. The present 
plural of am — we are, ye are, they are — are 
Northumbrian forms which have supplanted the 
syndon of the West Saxons, which clung closer 
to the seyn of the Germans. So also am is 
nearer to em, the Northumbrian first person 
present, than to the West Saxon eom ; and the 
same remark holds good of many other examples 
both of declension and conjugation. As for 
single words, the preference given to the 
Northumbrian is even more striking. Not con- 
tent with existing merely as a kindred or sister 
form, the Northern dialect has often entirely 
extirpated the West Saxon equivalent, and will 
not suffer it to live by its side. As for our pro- 
nunciation, it certainly appears to be much more 
Northern than Saxon. There are some young 
ladies indeed who talk of skj'y, and kjind, and 
chjild, for "sky," and "kind," and "child;" 
some, too, talk of cjare for " care ; " and some 


clodpoles in the West talk of being sceared for 
being " scared " or frightened, or of a meare for 
a " mare ; " but as a nation we speak with a less 
mincing mouth. We speak our vowels out broad 
and boldly; and in speech at least, we have 
sent the West Saxon broken vowels to the right 
about, and even where we have kept them to 
the eye, as in swear, and such-like words, we 
have lost them to the ear, for though we write 
swear, we pronounce sware. 

During the eleventh, and all through the 
twelfth centuries, the vernacular dialects of 
England were left by the Normans to adjust 
their differences as they could. The King and 
his barons spoke Norman-French, their subjects 
and serfs, whether Scandinavians or Saxons, 
might speak whatever jargon they chose. It 
never occurred to the Conqueror or his sons, or 
to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, 
that a Norman could be anything else than a 
Norman, or his speech anything else than Nor- 
man. But after John's time, in the thirteenth 
century, and especially towards its end, the case 
is very different. Now there are not three lan- 
guages but one language, not three dialects but 
one dialect, not three peoples but one people. 
Now we have an Anglo-Norman literature, in 
which the body and bones and muscle are Scan- 
dinavian or Saxon, and all its articulations 


English, but the skin, and dress, and garb, are 
Norman. That is the period of knightly romances, 
of William the Werewulf, and Havelock the 
Dane, but as year after year goes on the lan- 
guage becomes more and more Saxon, using 
Saxon as a common term, the Norman dress is 
cut more after the Saxon pattern, the Saxon 
articulations become more and more fined down, 
here a joint of speech or a case-ending or con- 
jugation is worn away and rubbed off, as the 
two elements of the now common tongue are 
rolled together down the stream of time, like 
water-worn pebbles in a river's bed, whose very 
original angularities only serve to render them 
at last more smooth and round. So we pass 
through the reigns of Henry III. and of the 
first Edward and his weak son. In all of these 
England had much work to do at home. She 
was exposed to little foreign influence. During 
this time, then, her language revenged itself 
upon the Anglo-Norman, which ever lost ground. 
But with the glorious reign of Edward the Third, 
and his victories and conquests in France, the 
French element in our language gained fresh 
force, and a new stream of life-blood was poured 
into its veins. Then it was that those Integra 
verborum plaustra, those "whole wains full of 
words," were imported from France, and hence 
it is that the language of the courtly Chaucer 


shows such a great French infusion if compared 
with the homely dialect of Piers Plowman. But 
the new infusion was too late to affect either the 
root or the bole or the boughs of the old Eng- 
lish stock; it showed itself as it burst and 
budded out in fresh leaves and flowers, in the 
new verbs and adjectives and substantives made 
English by the great Father of English poetry, 
but the trunk and branches of the tongue 
remain the same, they support bravely the new 
foliage which covers them, and without them 
the new graftings and offshoots would not last a 
day. As it is, many of them dwindled away ; 
the untimely fruit of Chaucer's or Go wer's brain 
they do not now see the sun, but others take 
fast hold of the parent stem and still survive. 

During the fifteenth century the literature of 
England was well-nigh mute. It was a time of 
strife both political and religious; there were 
rebels, traitors, and heretics in abundance, and 
as a necessary consequence murders and execu- 
tions, whether by the axe or at the stake, were 
rife. Men had much to do and think about, 
but little time to write except on religion, and 
that too often in no Christian spirit. "The 
fathers had eaten sour grapes, and their chil- 
dren's teeth were set on edge." The treasons of 
Henry of Bolingbroke were cruelly avenged on 
his saintly grandson, and the treachery shown 


* _ 

towards Henry the Sixth was justly punished 
by the long struggle of the Roses, in which and 
the desolation which followed on it, the philo- 
sophic De Commines saw more plainly than in 
any other land the finger of God. But though 
a literature may slumber and sleep for a century 
and more, then to wake up like a giant refreshed 
by sleep, a language so long as it is alive in 
the mouth of a nation never slumbers ; it never 
altogether rests, it always advances, sometimes 
with hasty giant strides, sometimes at a creep- 
ing tortoise-pace, and so it was with England 
in the fifteenth century. During that period 
the language made great progress, but inasmuch 
as a living literature — that Pole-star by which 
a language steers its course — was wanting in 
great measure, it progressed in different direc- 
tions, that is, still greater play was given to the 
dialects which it fostered in its bosom, and it 
was in danger of resolving itself into its several 
component parts. It was the great evil of the 
time that there was no sure pattern of the 
mother-tongue to which men could look up and 
appeal, and say, "That word is true English 
coin current all over the land, but that is merely 
a base token of a country town which will not 
pass beyond its native walls." In such a time 
it was that Caxton could tell the story of asking 
for " eggs " on the south-east coast and not 
VOL. 11. C 



being understood. But those times like all times 
had a remedy for every wrong, and towards the 
end of the fifteenth century the discovery of 
printing came to the rescue of our mother-Eng- 
lish, and the mechanical art of Caxton, and the 
labours of his disciples in the Almonry of West- 
minster Abbey restored a standard to our tongue. 
In the sixteenth century the seeds of religious 
strife which had already borne bitter fruit to the 
heretics who first sowed them, shot up into the 
goodly harvest of the Reformation. Men not 
only acted and thought, but they wrote, and 
wrote well and much, about religion. The dis- 
ciples of Wycliffe had already, in the previous 
century, tried their hands on rendering the Bible 
into English. In the sixteenth when it was first 
revised and printed, a new element of stability 
was at once added to the thought, the literature, 
and the language of the nation. Then came 
many other prose translations into English from 
the Latin, from the French, and from the Italian. 
On every side the language is trying its breath, 
exercising its muscle, and pluming its wings for 
that great flight into the boundless realm of 
thought which it was soon to make. Now there 
were poets, Skelton in England, and Lindsay 
and Dunbar, those great Scottish lights, which 
kept the lamp of literature alive when it seemed 
about to expire, — all three most original in 



their way; then there was a play or two,— 
Ralph Roister Doister, and Gammer Gurton's 
Needle. A little later and we have Surrey and 
Wyatt and Sackville, and in the dark Marian 
days we have Greene and Ascham ; all, bitter con- 
troversialist, dull translator, grotesque rhymer, 
silver-tongued poet, and fettered playwright, all 
preparing a path and making the language 
smooth for Shakspeare, the sun of our literary 
system and his satellites, all — 

"Preluding those melodious strains that fill 
The spacious times of great Elizabeth 
"With sounds that echo still." 

But besides our sun we have other lesser lights. 
Orthodox divines and stern natural logicians as 
Jewel and Hooker, sweet Arcadian shepherds 
like Sidney and Spenser, natural philosophers 
like Bacon, topographers in verse like Drayton, 
translators from the great Italian masters like 
Fairfax, all working steadily on, and adding 
day by day to the treasures in the national 
storehouse. With James the First came Jonson 
and the minor dramatists, allegorical writers 
like the Fletchers, conceited theology like Donne, 
sweet affectation in rhyme like Herbert and 
Cowley, love-songs bordering on lust in soft 
Carew and Randolph ; Milton is laying up that 
store of learning which, wedded to solemn verse, 
raises him a generation after next to Shak- 


speare's throne. "We are beginning to think too. 
Henry More and Cudworth and Hobbes are 
each students of philosophy in their own way ; 
Clarendon is laying up facts or what he calls 
facts, and taking breath before he writes his 
endless history. The Puritanical struggle in 
Charles the First's reign makes us go to the 
theatre less but think and preach more. We 
cut off our lovelocks and put our players into 
the stocks. We rather neglect the vernacular 
and affect Latin as we see it chosen by Selden 
and Milton; but that is only for a moment; it 
is but the genius of English winking for a while ; 
on the whole our style under the Common- 
wealth is cumbrous and involved, if we may 
judge from Whitelock's works and Cromwell's 
mysterious speeches, out of which the genius 
of Carlyle can scarce make common sense. 
Were it not for Waller and Mrs. Hutchinson 
and a few letter-writers, we should say the art 
of writing English was lost. But the Common- 
wealth is overthrown, Charles the Second returns 
with all his rights and vices, the sour Parliament 
leaven with which the literary bread of that 
generation was made so unwholesome is thrown 
to the dogs, and the children of the Ante- 
chamber at Whitehall are fed upon fancy rolls, 
white and light with yeast brought over from 
France. But it does not nourish us, we sigh 


for more solid food, we try our hands in Dryden 
at political pamphleteering in Alexandrines. It 
is a new fangle and takes wonderfully. So do 
the new kind of plays, those of intrigue and 
gallantry, the Spanish drama with something of 
Calderon's rapt force, and with plots as involved 
but not nearly so artistic as his. But we still 
think, for Hobbes , is still with us as selfish as 
ever, Locke is working away in his rooms at 
Christ Church. Then we have many books of 
travels, and Pepys like a black spider is every 
day creeping from his web in the Admiralty, 
and every night crawling back to it again, 
noting down in the most truthful way every- 
thing that passes good and bad before his eyes, 
and worst of all his own vice and corruption. 
Lawyers are a doubtful race in all ages and in all 
lands, but our Filmers and Jeffreys, and a few 
others in this reign and the next, would match 
with the worst examples of any time. But even 
lawyers add to the language with their fantastic 
theories of divine right and high prerogative, 
and the brutality of Jeffreys has rendered the 
new-fangled word " Trimmer" more famous by 
his brow-beating than the candour and double- 
facedness of Halifax and his followers. We 
swear now as we used to swear in the good old 
times, and the ruffian Tyrconnel, " Lying Dick 
Talbot," can swear so hard that he curses all the 


way from Dublin to London. So we go on 
thinking, acting, libelling, gossiping, fawning, 
dicing, drinking, and swearing in the most 
charming French way, going fast politically 
speaking down the steep place into the sea of 
French dependence ; yet all the while the lan- 
guage thrives and prospers. Wherever we see 
a want we remedy it, not logically or gram- 
matically perhaps, but still we stop the weak 
link in our mail ; it may be with an ugly patch, 
but ugly as it is, the patch will last for ever. 
Thus, between the days of Paradise Lost and 
Dryden, we invent " its" a little word which 
every one now uses every other minute, but 
which for all that is never found in the authorized 
version of the Bible, and is only once or twice 
used by Shakspeare and Milton. His was the 
true common genitive of he, she, and it. Thus 
in Scripture we have, the gate that opened "of 
his own accord ; " but as time went on we find 
this common genitive confusing and awkward, 
and so we coined and forged the barbarous "its." 
Still, barbarous as it is, does any purist think 
that the day will ever dawn when English shall 
exist and " its" be done away ? 

Now we begin to borrow largely from foreign 
languages, but in a new way. Of yore we im- 
ported our words as in Chaucer's time by car- 
goes and batches. They came over as it were 


by the ship-load, were put up to public approba- 
tion by this or that great writer ; if approved 
they took the place of, or stood side by side 
with, the old vernacular equivalent. In this 
way to "err" and to "stray" find themselves 
after the lapse of years cheek by jowl in the 
English Liturgy, and in this way in many an 
English sentence, what seems to be a confirma- 
tion or corroboration of an argument or an 
assertion, is merely an idle repetition in one 
great element of the language of something 
which has been already uttered in the vocabu- 
lary of the other. " 'Tis hard to choose," we 
remember once hearing a great master of Eng- 
lish say to an upholsterer, who had laid some 
patterns at his feet. "Yes," was the trades- 
man's answer, "certainly it is difficult to select." 
The one was as Saxon as he could be, and the 
other as French or Latin as he could be, for over 
the "it" and "is" and "to," — those Saxon 
forms of construction, that framework so needful 
in building up the simplest sentence, — he had 
no power. That was the way of old time, but 
in the seventeenth century it was not so. As no 
dictionary can contain all or nearly all the 
words in a language, so no language can con- 
tain every word needful to express ideas or even 
things. Some languages have fifty words for a 
sword and twenty for a horse, but it would 


puzzle them sorely to express even our lumber- 
ing " steam-engine/' The case is worse in 
words which express abstract ideas, new pro- 
ducts either of the earth or mind, new coin in 
fact to pass current in men's mouths. The 
closer that nations live bound together by trade 
or war the more they feel on either side the need 
of adopting new words to express things or 
ideas which they have not of their own, hut 
which they must use. Thus the French have 
taken from us "comfortable" and "club" and 
"jockey" and "sport," and so we have taken 
from them " bayonet " and " prestige " and 
" solidarity," and many more. As too we have 
more trade and dealings with other nations than 
any country in the world, as we go everywhere 
and bring all things to our stores, so we have 
imported "tea" and "coffee" and "cocoa" and 
" china" and " porcelain" and " tobacco," and a 
thousand others, not at all in batches as of yore, 
but choosing this one or that one just as we 
wanted it, or as it took our fancy, bringing it 
into the land, calling it by its name, and finally 
naturalizing and adopting the alien as our own. 
Besides trade, war worked in this way, and 
early in the seventeenth century the comrades 
of the great Gustavus and his Swedes brought 
home with them from the great war in Germany 
such words as "plunder" and "lifeguard," 


which are pure Swedish forms, and of which the 
last has nothing to do with " life" but is formed 
from the Swedish "lif" or "body," answering 
to the German "leib." So that our " life-guard" 
means simply " body-guard," and does not, at 
least not in the first instance, refer to the pre- 
servation of the sovereign's existence. " Fur- 
lough" too we got at the same time from the 
Swedish "forlof," which old Monro spells "fur- 
loofe." At that time too we got the phrase 
"running the gatloup," or as we now call it 
"running the gauntlet" which has nothing to 
do with a steel glove, but means running a cer- 
tain distance between two files of soldiers, who 
beat the offender with rods as he passes, gat 
meaning a path, and loup the act of running, 
akin to leap. The curious reader will find this 
punishment fully described in Monro's " Ex- 
pedition" with Mackeye's regiment which served 
in the Thirty Years' War. 

Now comes Dutch William, always beaten, 
yet ever winning as much by a defeat as by a 
victory. With him came many an outlandish 
word, and in his time too flourished Defoe, 
whose prose is still unsurpassed. During the 
eighteenth century we have many poets and 
many divines. We are good logicians of that 
old formal sort now brought to its true level, 
a system which stands in the same relation to 


the laws of thought as the Alphabet does to 
Macbeth or the bellows to the Haarlem Organ. 
We could not think without these elementary- 
forms, just as Macbeth could not have been 
written had Shakspeare not learnt his A, B, C, or 
the best player in the world struck a symphony 
on that great instrument without wind, but each 
and all of which are merely mechanical aids to 
a far higher aim. The Alphabet, we believe, 
has never asserted its superiority over the poet, 
though we have heard of a bellows-blower who 
brought an organist to a standstill ; but logic 
long lorded it over thought, saying, "thus and 
thus only shalt thou think/' till thought arose, 
shook off the mediaeval yoke, which the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries had made 
narrower and tighter still, and reduced mere 
formal logic to its true position as an underling 
rather than a lord. In that century, Swift 
scorches and withers ; and Pope, the champion of 
the classical school, blazes as a satirist and trans- 
lator, but our most remarkable literary produc- 
tions are our essayists and novelists. Addison 
and Fielding, and Sterne and Smollett and Steele 
will live as long as English lasts. Hume tries 
his hand at history, and his work is still our 
best. At the end of the century we find out 
political economy and agriculture, just as in the 
present we have discovered cleanliness and 


philanthropy, and if we have not made all man- 
kind wash, or brought every one to love his 
neighbour as himself, we have taken more steps 
that way than the nation ever took before, and 
in this respect may boast ourselves better than 
our fathers. If the last century was the school- 
room of the classical, the present has been the 
play-ground of the romantic school. In the 
first quarter of it authors thought before they 
wrote, and the result was often satisfactory ; 
now our authors write before they think, and 
having once written leave out thinking alto- 
gether. Of late we have been handed over, with 
few exceptions, to the tender mercies of the 
sensationists both on and off the stage. " Come 
early, seven murders in the first act/' is pretty 
much the shape of the alluring bill posted to 
draw us to the theatre, and our novelists com- 
bine the wearisome twaddle of a Scuderi with 
the choicest atrocities gathered from the pages 
of the Newgate Calendar. We are glad to see 
that the English archbishops are turning their 
attention to this sad state of things ; for really if 
we except the works of the laureate and one or 
two others, English literature at the present day 
is like a plot of ground which once was a lovely 
garden, but which is now all overrun with weeds ; 
and in this rank jungle lies in wait the penny-a- 
liner, whose calling it is to fall upon every fresh 


fact, and to tell it in the most diffuse and rambling 
way. Like a Thug, he chokes the life out of a sen- 
tence by a long coil of words. In general this 
assassin of the mother-tongue has very vague no- 
tions of spelling. He could not write " irrelevant," 
or "veterinary," or even "separate" correctly from 
dictation. With him women in what the Ger- 
mans call a state of guter Hoffnung, or gesegneten 
Letbesumstdnden, are always "enceinte" When 
a frost comes, though he revels at the prospect 
of accidents on the ice, his notions of zero are 
most perplexing. Sometimes he will tell you 
that " zero rose to freezing-point during the past 
night, but that as the sun rose zero fell sud- 
denly, and a thaw set in." Sometimes he seems 
to think the Centigrade thermometer is a malig- 
nant monster, a water-god that lurks among the 
weeds of the Serpentine in defiance of the First 
Commissioner of Works and the park-keepers, 
for he has been known to warn his readers on no 
account to venture on the ice so long as the Centi- 
grade is below zero, but to wait till they see their 
old friend Fahrenheit below the freezing-point, 
so that to him these two scales are the Ormuzd 
and Ahriman of skaters and sliders, the good 
and evil principles of frost, instead of two dif- 
ferent scales expressing exactly the very same 
thing. With him all accidents are " awful," 
but he much prefers "catastrophe" to " acci- 


dent." So too a fire is invariably a " conflagra- 
tion," and not only a conflagration but an 
" alarming " one, as if it were likely to be any- 
thing else. If he describes a shop it is an " ex- 
tensive establishment," though the owner may 
be merely a cobbler. At a launch he is in great 
glory, nor is he satisfied till he has described 
how " the noble triumph of marine architectural 
construction" — a periphrasis for ship which 
would delight the heart of an Anglo-Saxon 
" maker" — has " glided like lightning into its 
native element." A most puzzling assertion, 
seeing that the native element of no part of a 
ship is water, either salt or fresh. He makes 
his way everywhere, and we find him even in 
the very last Queen's Speech, in which he 
makes Her Most Gracious Majesty talk of a 
"friendly reconciliation" between contending 
powers ; as if a reconciliation could ever be 
anything else than friendly. Sometimes he goes 
up in a balloon, at least he says he does, though 
we hardly believe him. Were we there on the 
spot, endowed like Nero with absolute power, 
and sure that he were the only one of this 
wretched class alive, we would, without a mo- 
ment's remorse, take such steps that the balloon, 
and he in it, should never come down. To the 
Moon he might rise, and write a long descrip- 
tion of Earth to the "man" in that planet, but 


earth should be rid of him and his twaddle. 
But, alas ! he goes up and comes down, and 
talks of the "veteran .^Eronaut" and of zero 
rising and falling up there in his distracting 
way. But we leave him where we found him, 
"the last man in possession" of the English 
language abiding in that stately palace which 
our forefathers have reared, and rendering it 
hideous by his utter ignorance of regimen or 
syntax, of mood or of tense, of person or of 
gender. Standing there, in the very fore-front 
of our language and literature, read by millions 
every morning in the newspapers, his power for 
harm is incalculable. " To this complexion," 
after an existence of eighteen centuries, " have 
we come at last." 

We have thus rapidly run over our language 
and literature from the earliest to the latest 
times. Celt, Roman, Saxon, Northman, and 
Norman spun the woof and warp. Since then 
we have broidered it with many a foreign word, 
tokens of national triumphs or defeats, and with 
many a household phrase taken from factions or 
parties, terms often of reproach which have been 
adopted by those to whom they were first 
applied in derision as watchwords of all their 
class. Besides the great main elements of our 
tongue we have borrowed at all times and on 
all hands during these eighteen centuries. It 


has been a long race, and we have thrown off 
most of our wraps and ornaments by the way. 
We are almost bare of conjugation and in- 
flexion. We have little superfluous flesh left, 
but our wind and muscle and bone and thews 
are strong. No tongue can match ours for 
strength and suppleness of expression. But 
just in proportion to our scantiness of form is 
our richness of vocabulary. A word is self- 
existent. It can stand alone in this sense 
whether it be substantive or adjective. It has a 
settlement by the natural law of language in 
the land which has either begotten or adopted 
it, that is its birthright of which none can rob 
it. " I am an English word," " Civis Romanus 
sum," who dare cast me out ? But an inflexion 
or form or mood is quite another thing. It 
cannot stand alone, like ivy it clings to the 
trunk, but you may tear it off from its hold and 
trail it through the mire, often very much to the 
good of the stem which upheld it. Inflexions 
therefore may be rubbed off, conjugations may 
wear out, a word may change its form and spell- 
ing, especially if it be an alien word, but it is 
still not only a word, but the word it has been 
from the first, under every change of form and 
under every kind of alteration or mutilation it 
has had but one original meaning from which all 
its later senses may be traced. It may become 


obsolete and out of date, but then it is not the 
less an English word, though we may have for- 
gotten its existence. A man may have cousins 
and may forget them, as who does not even in 
Scotland, but they are still his cousins. So it 
is with words. Where then shall we look for 
all these English citizens, who claim to vote as 
English representatives by a sort of universal 
suffrage ? Can any dictionary contain them ? 
As we write the word " dictionary" we have un- 
consciously abandoned the point, for a Dic- 
tionary like a Lexicon originally meant only a 
selection or collection of choice phrases and 
words in a tongue, not an aggregate of every 
word in the language. That was the Greek and 
Roman idea, and our modern classical diction- 
aries help themselves out by Totius Latinitatis, 
or Totius Grcecitatis, Lexicon, to show by their 
title the completeness of their work. It is 
probable that our Greek and Latin dictionaries 
which are supposed to contain every known 
word in those tongues really contain but a por- 
tion of those vocabularies, because as many 
classical authors have perished numbers of 
words may have perished with them, and in- 
stances such as nero, the modern Greek for 
water, which evidently stands in the closest 
connexion with the water divinities Nereus and 
the Nereides, prove that many Greek and Latin 
words which now exist only in the modern 


dialects have only escaped notice as ancient 
words from the fact that the authors who may 
have used them no longer exist. But of modern 
languages such as French, German, and Eng- 
lish, the vocabulary is so immense, and the 
numbers of authors published and unpublished 
so boundless, that no dictionary can hope to be 
exhaustive. An approach to completeness is all 
that can be expected. Like a man who sits 
down to invite his friends to a feast and finds 
he has thirty to ask while he has only room 
for ten, we at once begin to pick and choose, 
to see in short what kind of words ought not to 
be in a dictionary before we settle those that 
ought to be there. First and foremost, proper 
names and names of places fall away ; interest- 
ing and instructive though they may be, we 
treat them as Don Quixote's medical and 
religious advisers did his romances, " Out of the 
window with them ! They shall find no place 
here." Each of these classes in fact requires a 
special dictionary of its own. 

Next come jaw-breaking names of scientific 
implements and technical nomenclature in 
general, unless such as are so common as to be 
of constant occurrence in English authors. On 
this principle let such words as " Acotyledon " 
and "Dicotyledon," and all that barbarous 
botanic clan be banished from our dictionary. 



Let " sextant " and " quadrant " and perhaps 
" theodolite " be admitted. But let almost every 
word of this kind which has only a special and 
technical meaning, which is merely a scientific 
label having existence in this or that branch of 
knowledge, but which cannot show its citizen- 
ship by quotation from some work other than 
one which treats of that particular science, also 
follow its botanical brethren to the dreary 
columns of a technological dictionary. 

Again, a question arises, Shall the words 
which excite a feeling of shame be excluded 
from our dictionary ? Here the rule Naturalia 
non sunt turpia holds. A dictionary which is 
worth its salt does not exist to suppress but to 
utter words, and words of all kinds so that they 
be not filthy and obscene. " Muck " is a nasty 
thing, though it has been well defined as only 
" matter out of place ; " but the man who ex- 
cluded it from our English dictionary would 
make a mistake, because though it is dirty it is 
not obscene, not to speak of the fact that it is 
just such a word as this which shows that 
primeval affinity which binds so many tongues 
together by a golden chain. Sanscrit, mih ; 
Lat., mejere, or mtngere ; Anglo-Saxon, migan ; 
Gothic, maihstus ; modern German, mist; Anglo- 
Saxon, meox ; English, muck, and mixen. Our 
forefathers spoke with a manly mouth, and 


uttered many a word which now shakes our 
weak nerves, but as they spoke so they wrote, 
and what they wrote remains. To exclude all 
free words from our dictionary would cut us off 
from a rich store. Besides, as Grimm well says, 
a dictionary is not " a moral treatise." It is not 
the Whole Duty of Man ; its duty is towards the 
language, and it knows no law except that of 
showing fairness alike to all. What shall we do 
with our Shakspeare, what with our Bibles, if 
we are to strike out from them all the outspoken 
words that shock the taste of our mincing age, 
which will gloat for hours over the double mean- 
ings of a novel like Gerfaut, and be charmed for 
a whole day with its unblushing profligacy, and 
yet cannot suffer its delicate ears to be polluted 
by any one of our fine old English words which 
still exist, and will always exist so long as the 
needs which they express are the lot of poor 
weak human nature. These words must be 
there then, for our dictionary affords an asylum 
to all its children; it should be a sanctuary 
large enough to hold them all. There there are 
no outcasts or exiles, all have an equal birth- 
right, old and young alike they should be all 
there, except the aliens and the obscene. Let 
those alone be profane, and let those whose 
taste is too refined to bear what they may find 
in Shakspeare or the Bible forgive the presence 


of the offenders, and console themselves with 
the overwhelming majority of words fit to be 
presented in their society. 

We have now settled the words which a dic- 
tionary should contain. All English words, 
except the classes we have set aside, have a born 
right to be looked on as free of the tongue. As 
a child has one first look, one original form of 
face and feature by which its mother knows it all 
through life, however much that face and those 
features may be marred by time and age ; so 
every word has one original meaning, one form 
by which it may always be known, however 
long it may have lived, and however much it 
may have been modified by use. But as the 
child changes as it grows older, so words change 
in centuries. As every human being has a his- 
tory often written on his face, so words have 
their history as they appear in the literature 
of the race that speaks them. A dictionary, 
then, has first to prove the birthright of a word ; 
it has to find out its original meaning, and to pro- 
duce, in fact, its certificate of birth by quoting if 
possible the first, or at least a very early passage 
in which it occurs. After that comes the history 
of the word, in which, by a string of quotations 
down to the latest times, the various changes of 
meaning which the word has undergone may be 
faithfully presented as in a mirror. Nor is it 


enough merely to quote a passage. Chapter 
and verse should be given, the name of the book 
and the page, so that a careful reader may 
verify them if he pleases, and all may know the 
kind of writer from whom they have been taken. 
We need not add that the reading of the com- 
piler of a dictionary must be wide and deep. 
It must begin early and end late. He must 
have neither religious nor philosophic bias, for 
in a dictionary there are no religions except that 
of justice and impartiality, no philosophies 
except the philosophy of language. 

But besides all this, we expect more in our 
dictionary. There should be occasional defini- 
tions, not such as Table, "a raised flat surface, 
at which one stands or sits to take various 
things from off it," or " a plane resting or raised 
upon legs, at which a number of occupations 
are performed;" or Nose, "the protruding and 
elevated portion of the human or animal face, 
situated immediately over the mouth, the seat 
and organ of smell." How much better would 
it be, as Grimm says, in quoting these long- 
winded definitions, to content one's-self with 
simply giving the Latin equivalents, mensa and 
nasus, which afford at once a sure explanation 
of what is meant to be understood in a language 
at once the widest spread, and best known, and 
most precise that the world has ever seen. What 


pedantry and affectation to forsake such a help, 
and betake one's-self to such particular and pre- 
posterous definitions as these we have men- 
tioned ! Every word should have an explanation, 
should be followed in a dictionary by something, 
whether a Latin word or an English word or 
two, which helps the reader to understand its 
meaning ; but to do this by a cumbrous logical 
definition, is merely to explain something of 
which a little is known by something of which 
nothing is known, and to throw a cloud of dust 
into the reader's eyes, which robs him of the 
small insight which he already had, and leaves 
him blind instead of short-sighted. 

Anything more ? Yes, something more. Every 
word has an etymology. We well know the tricks 
which have been played under this name, and 
the reader of this new Dictionary will find not 
a few of them ; so long as etymology was merely 
the field on which word-jugglers and mounte- 
bank professors of philology met to play their 
pranks, it was often " a mockery, a delusion, and 
a snare/' As a science its rules are even now 
scarcely settled, but it is a science ; the false 
professors and tumblers have been chased from 
the field, and etymology, from having been the 
bane and byword of philology, has now become 
its medicine. It has been well likened to the 
salt or spice in a dictionary, without which many 


a word would be tasteless ; but yet all food may 
be over-salted and over-spiced, and there are 
some things which have a greater zest if they are 
eaten raw, without either pepper or salt. Let 
there be moderation in all things, therefore, and 
among the rest in Etymology. 

There was a time, indeed, when the classical 
languages, those twin tyrants Greek and Latin, 
lorded it over all the tongues of the earth. They 
had crushed the vernacular in every land by the 
weight and beauty of their literature, and by 
the fulness and symmetry of their grammatical 
rules. With their yoke on our necks, we scarce 
thought our own baser tongues worth studying 
as languages, however much our literature might 
demand our admiration. We reformed all gram- 
mar to their standard, and scarce dared to have 
a rule of our own. But when Sanscrit was dis- 
covered, the two despots were hurled from their 
thrones, and a new and juster reign began. It 
was as different from the tyranny of Greek and 
Latin as the gentle influence of a mother differs 
from the domination of a step-dame, or the 
mild sway of a legitimate king from the upstart 
arrogance of an usurper. " Obey my rule or 
perish/' was the old decree. " Respect me and 
respect yourselves," was the new philological 
dispensation. Before the venerable age and 
boundless fulness of Sanscrit all other tongues 


must bow the head, and in the clearness of its 
forms many dark roots are transfigured, and 
glow with purest light. We complain of the 
moon, and ascribe all sorts of evil influences to 
her. Why ? because she is too near us, she in- 
terferes with our tides, makes men mad, and rots 
our meat. It is unlucky to look at her through 
glass, and woe betide the wight who does not 
turn his money in his pocket, if he has any 
to turn, when he catches sight of her as she 
begins to wax. We abuse our stars, too, and 
impute malevolence to them ; but do we ever 
dare to take such liberties with the sun ? No ! 
and why ? because he is too great, because he 
is too far off, because he is too bright. Not 
even in these islands, where no one can say that 
his beams are often oppressive, does any one 
venture to speak ill of the sun ; we all revere him 
as the great centre of our system. So it is with 
Sanscrit : it warms and vivifies our vernacular 
philology, it has made it a living thing, it has 
made our dry roots shoot up into flower and fruit, 
out of the ugly bulb has burst forth the lily 
more bravely arrayed than Solomon in his glory ; 
it has done all this like a god from afar, without 
passion or pedantry, and without insult or op- 
pression. It lives and it lets live. Each of our 
European languages, and best of all the two old 
tyrants who have now learned better behaviour, 


looks into its own bosom and there finds the 
features of the great mother reflected, and the 
whisper of her voice speaking to its conscience, 
and bidding it be a freeman and no longer a 
slave. But no man can be free without self- 
respect, he cannot respect himself until he knows 
himself, and he cannot know himself till he looks 
more at home and less abroad, and so sees at 
last what manner of man he is. Let our philology, 
therefore, be rather home-born than foreign ; let 
it rather be near-sighted than far-fetched ; let it 
know itself before it claims to know others. 

And now comes the question, to which all that 
has been already written is but a preface, How 
has Dr. Latham fulfilled these duties in this 
Dictionary ? Six parts of it lie before us, though 
if the work had progressed as it began, there 
ought to have been nine ; but still there are six, 
from A to Combust. The letters A and B, and 
part of C, are enough to judge from. Let us say 
at once that we are much disappointed. In this 
dictionary we miss many words, old and coarse 
perhaps, but not obscene, and which are deep- 
rooted in the language. But this is a small point 
compared with the poverty of the quotations, 
which do not give the earliest, and in many cases 
not even the latest uses of the words. The quo- 
tations in fact seem taken almost at haphazard, 
some on insignificant words are enormously 


long, and others ridiculously short. No attempt 
is made to let the word tell its own story by a 
series of quotations ; there it stands as it stood, 
it may be, in the days of Elizabeth, or of the 
Georges, or as it stands nowadays, when it had 
perhaps already existed hundreds of years, and 
undergone all sorts of modifications. The de- 
finitions, when any are attempted, are rather 
logical than grammatical, and are generally so 
stated as either to embody a crotchet, with which 
few can agree even if they understand it, or 
they are so transcendental as to be quite beyond 
the comprehension of even an enlightened 
reader. The etymology is generally of the 
scantiest, and sometimes of the wildest kind, and 
scarcely an attempt is made to show the place 
in which English stands in the great Indo- 
European family. We believe Dr. Latham is 
an unbeliever in the truths of philology. He 
thinks the wise men came from the West. He is 
welcome to his unbelief ; but a dictionary is not 
written for unbelievers but for believers, and 
the new philological faith is too firmly rooted 
to be simply ignored. Whoever compiling a 
dictionary does thus ignore it, must do so at the 
peril of his head, and must look to hear hard 
things. We expect him, as may be gathered 
from what we have said above, to be moderate 
in the use of his etymological spice-box, but 


when we find him either not using it at all or 
using it at random, what can we say but that we 
love English rather than Latham, and must 
criticise his shortcomings ? 

So much for the general, now for some 
particulars ; though our bill of indictment is so 
long, that even in A and B we shall not nearly 
have room for all. 

A. prep. For its power in such expressions as 

They go a-begging to a bankrupt's door (Dry den). 
See On. 

It is very doubtful whether this gerundial a- y as 
in a-begging, a-dying [nioriturus] is a preposition 
at all, and if it be, it has not come from on. 
This will be plain if we consider the very next 
word in Dr. Latham's Dictionary : — 

Aback, adv. [on back]. 

1. Back. 

They drew abacke, as half with shame confound. 

Spe?tser, Pastorals ; June. 

2. Behind ; from behind. 

Venerius, perceiving the danger of the general, was about to 
have assailed the poupe of Italy his gallie, so to have endan- 
gered her being set upon both before and abacke. — Knolles, 
History of the Turks, 879 A. (Ord. MS.) 

Here we cannot help thinking that Dr. Latham 
is quite wrong in supposing that the a in a-back, 
and very many words of the same kind, comes 
from the Saxon on. The meaning of that prepo- 


sition is quite as much that of rest as of motion, 
and no sense but that of motion will suit the 
passage quoted from Spenser. Besides, what 
authority is there for the change of on into a in 
all these compounds. How then is it to be 
explained, and what is the true etymology of 
such words as a-back, a-gog, a- loft, a- lone, a-loof 
a-mong, a-new, asunder, a-thwart, and many more ? 
Why, simply that in the scramble for precedence 
and adoption which took place between the 
various dialects in England between the Con- 
quest and the invention of printing, the Scandi- 
navian element won the mastery in these forms 
as in many others. Thus, though we cannot 
point to any Anglo-Saxon equivalents of a-back 
and its followers on the list, we can in almost 
every case point to the Old Norse counterparts 
of these English words, all formed of the pre- 
position d, the long and broad a still heard north 
of the Humber, which governs the accusative 
with the idea of motion, and the dative with 
that of rest. Thus d baki, with the dat., " on the 
back, borne on the back," where the " i" of 
the case is preserved in the now silent but once 
sounded " e " of abacke; d bak, with the ace, " on 
the back, put on the back," whence also we have 
an adverb abak, the exact equivalent of our 
a-back. That was the word as it stood in the 
Northumbrian dialect before it had spread itself 


over all England, and thence has our modern 
word been taken. 

So also Aboard, which we have now limited 
merely to a sea-faring term, but which originally 
meant quite as often sitting at a table as stand- 
ing on a ship's deck, a borSi or a borS are the 
old Norse forms whence our modern adverb has 
come. Nor can we help turning here to " board," 
to which Dr. Latham refers us after telling us 
that "aboard" comes from "on board." This 
is what he says : — 

Board, s. A.-S. bord. — Bord is a German word; but it was 
taken up in the French, whence it reached England as an 
Anglo-Norman one. Hence, it is difficult to give the exact 
details of all its derivatives. As a general rule, it may be laid 
down that it is a word of Anglo-Saxon origin when it means 
piece of wood, table, and the like; of Anglo-Norman when the 
notion of side prevails. It is certainly Anglo-Norman when, 
as a verb, it can be rendered by accost. 

This is a most mysterious passage, from which 
we infer that there are two boards in English, 
one derived from the Anglo-Saxon and one from 
the Anglo-Norman. In point of fact there never 
was but one board in the English tongue derived 
from the Anglo-Saxon, and meaning originally 
a flat plank, a board in fact. The word was 
common both to the Norsemen and Anglo- 
Saxons, and was used by both in precisely the 
same sense. The Norsemen carried it with them 
to Normandy, and it was ingrafted in some of 


its senses into Norman-French ; but to say that 
"it is of Anglo-Saxon origin when it means a 
piece of wood, table, and the like, and of Anglo- 
Norman when the notion of side prevails " is 
sheer nonsense. Nor is it "certainly Anglo- 
Norman when as a verb it can be rendered by 
accost/' All this confusion arises from dis- 
regard of the rule laid down before that a word 
has one meaning, and only one, out of which 
all its after-forms are made. What then is the 
Anglo-Saxon and Norse borS from which our 
" board," as well as the Anglo-Norman aborder, 
and our obsolete substantive abord, sprung ? 
First of all it meant a flat piece of wood or 
plank, then because planks or boards were used 
as tables it meant a table, as we use it every 
day in many expressions, "to be bonny and 
buxom at bed and at board, " the festive board." 
Then because planks were used for the decks of 
ships, the deck of a ship was called board, 
whence we have the expression "all fair and 
above board," meaning open, unhidden, upon 
deck where all may see it, not down below in 
the darkness of the hold ; unless this expression 
too relates to a table, and contrasts the light 
above the table with the darkness under it. It 
may be so, but we lean to the metaphor from the 
deck of a ship. For the same reason because 
planks were used for the sides of ships, a ship's 


side was called board, whence starboard and 
larboard ; next it was used for the whole ship, 
whence " on board," and " aboard," the first of 
which is the Saxon, and the last the Norse form. 
But the list is not nearly out : sailors who in 
sea-fights try to scale the sides of an enemy's 
ship are called " boarders " — a word Dr. Latham 
has omitted, though he uses the verb to " board " 
in that sense. From this sense we used to call 
any ardent attempt to force one's company on 
another to board. " He would have boarded me 
in his fury," says one of the merry wives of 
Windsor, speaking of Falstaff's impetuous 
wooing. But those who are fed in any one's 
house and sit at his table are also called 
"boarders" and such persons are said to "board" 
with the master. Hence too we have boarding- 
school, and board-wages, that is, money allowed 
to servants for their food. Furthermore, because 
board means side of a ship, by a very natural 
metaphorical process it is transferred to the side 
of anything. And now we drop the " oa" which 
only marks the length of the vowel, and go back 
to the original "0" of the word, and form a 
number of words, as "border," the outer side or 
edge of anything ; thus we speak of the "border" 
of \ cloth or the " border " of a garden, and of 
"the Border" between Scotland and England, 
meaning the tract where the two sides of each 


country touch, and by a reduplication we speak 
of the Borderside, and we say to border, meaning 
to be on the march or edge of a country, and 
those who live there are called Borderers. So 
also a book is said to be in boards when its out- 
side case is formed of paper pasted together and 
called -pasteboard ; and finally people who sit 
round a table and do business are called a board. 
All these meanings come from the first rude flat 
plank of wood, tabula, asser, which our fore- 
fathers hewed out in some forest in the morning 
of time, and called board, perhaps because it 
would bear something when set upon it. It is a 
very simple word, and tells its own history 
without confusion if Dr. Latham would only let 
it. Nor had the Normans, except collaterally 
in abord and aborder, both derived metaphorically 
from ships, anything to do with the develop- 
ment of the word, which was complete in its 
notion of plank, table, ship, side, and sustenance, 
before the Conquest both in England and the 

But to return to our adverbs in "a-": we 
have no time to examine them all, but here are 
some : — 

Agog", adv. [?] In a state of desire or activity ; heated with a 
notion ; longing ; strongly excited. * 

Then follow quotations from South, Cowper, 
Dryden, Roger TEstrange, Butler's Hudibras, 

11 AGOG" AND " GOGGLE r 49 

and the Spectator, in the order named. Then 
comes something from the late Mr. Garnett, 
which shows how sure his philosophical insight 
was : — 

We believe that the Roxburgh phrase, on gogs, adduced by 
Mr. Brockett, points to the true origin, viz. Icelandic a gcegium, 
on the watch or look out ; from the neuter passive verb gcegiaz, 
to peep or pry. — Garnett, p. 30. 

This little bit from Mr. Garnett, one of the 
best philologists England ever had, might have 
shaken Dr. Latham's belief in his "on backs," 
"on boards," and other adverbs of the same 
kind. No doubt Mr. Garnett was right, and to 
be "agog" is to be beset with that eagerness 
which makes men and women run and stare and 
peep and pry instead of minding their business ; 
but why, when Dr. Latham was on the right 
vein, did he not tell us that " goggle eyes " are 
wide staring eyes, or eyes that stare with some- 
thing of a sidelong, furtive look ; and that when 
we call spectacles "goggles," we mean that 
they are glasses through which shortsighted 
people stare and peep ? All this information is 
no doubt reserved for " goggle," but a little of 
it would have come in very well under " agog." 
Before we pass on we may remark that in 
Richardson's Dictionary, which is one that does 
try to make each word tell its own story by 
quotations, there is a very curious passage from 

VOL. 11. E 


Wycliffe, in which the luscus of the Vulgate is 
rendered " goggle-eyed " in the verse, " It is 
better for thee to enter heaven having only one 
eye/' &c. So that " goggle-eyed " is equivalent 
to " one-eyed," though here again the original 
meaning is not wholly lost, for the peculiar 
staring one-sided expression of a face with only 
a single eye seems to have caught the trans- 
lator's fancy ; and so he rendered luscus, whence 
the French louche, by " goggle-eyed." One little 
correction of Mr. Garnett, and we leave " agog :" 
a gcegtum does not come from the verb gcegtaz, 
or as it would be more properly spelt gcegjask, 
but from the plural substantive gcegjur, staring, 
peeping, prying, the Roxburgh " gogs," a form 
which presupposes a lost singular "gog" or 
u gagr," the full broad vowel of the singular 
being broken in the plural by the final " u," in 
obedience to a well-known law. The expression 
standa a gcegjum, to stand agog, to stand and 
stare or pry, is still common in Icelandic. 
They have also the adjective gagr, gogr, gagrt, 
"twisted," " turned awry." In Snorro Sturlusons 
Edda, ii. 496, " Gogr " is given as an appellative 
of " man " in a bad sense, and in early times 
Peeping Tom of Coventry, who stood and stared 
and peeped at the Lady Godiva, would have 
been called " gogr " by an Icelandic Skald, 
and his deed of shame, " at standa a gcegjum." 


He was all "agog" to see the charms of the 
fair lady, and so he stood and peeped while all 
others turned away their eyes. 
Let us get on. 

"Agate," according to Dr. Latham, is "adv. [on gait] on the 
way, a-going. — Obsolete. 

Is it his ' motus trepidationis ' that makes him stammer ? I 
pray you, Memory, set him agate again. 

Brewer, Lingua, iii. 6." 

If by " on gait " Dr. Latham means that the 
second part of this adverb is derived from " gait," 
mien and manner in walking or going, and that 
the office of Memory, in the quotation, is to set 
the stammerer on his legs again and set him 
agoing, we think he is wrong. Our " gait " 
comes from the Icelandic " gaeta," to take care, 
to give heed, whence come a host of compounds 
and derivatives, as " gsetir " custos, " gaetinn " 
circumspectus, " gaetima-Sr " vir diligens, — such 
an one as he of whom the Psalmist says, " I 
will take heed to my paths ;" a man who walks 
straightly and carefully in the eyes of God and 
man, whose " gait " is good. It is remarkable 
that from this very word an adjective is formed 
with " a," " agaetr," where the " a " is not the 
preposition, but an adverb, meaning " ever/' so 
that " agaetr raa^r " is a man ever careful in his 
ways, a discreet, and therefore famous man, who 
walks well, because he knows that all eyes are 


fixed on him. But the substantive " gait " and 
this " agsetr " have nothing to do with our ob- 
solete "agate/* The first part of that adverb 
is the preposition " a," which Dr. Latham will 
call " on/' and the last has nothing to do with 
the "gait" or going of the stammerer, but 
relates to the road or path, or to use a Northum- 
brian word, the "gate" on which he walks. 
" Agate," in fact, is the old Norse " a gotu," 
from " gata," which means a path or road. 
Here again the broad vowel of the nominative 
singular has been broken by the final "u" of 
the declension. If any one objects that "a 
gotu" is unlike "agate," the answer is easy. 
The first thing to perish in a dialect so shat- 
tered as the Saxon and Scandinavian tongues 
were in England after the Conquest, is the in- 
flexions. The prepositions are tougher and 
remain. Thus, while the "a" remained, the 
Northumbrians soon forgot that the " u " final 
broke up the " a " of " gata ;" gate, the nomina- 
tive form, was used for all the cases, and a gotu 
became first a gata, and then the adverb agate 
or agates was formed. "When our version of the 
Psalms speaks of "letting the runagates con- 
tinue in scarceness," the Hebrew poet is but 
inculcating the truth of the proverb, " a rolling 
stone gathers no moss." The " runagates " are 
the vagabonds, the " gangrel loons " who roam 


over the country, trying path after path ; wan- 
derers without a settlement, who have neither 
time nor means to acquire a fixed abode. No 
word can better prove the truth of our asser- 
tions, first that the " a " is the Norse preposi- 
tion " a," governing the accusative with the 
sense of motion and the dative without it ; and 
secondly, that "gate" has nothing to do with 
" gait," which we have shown to be derived 
from another word, but is nothing more nor less 
than the old Northumbrian or Norse " gata," a 

So also Aground, after which Dr. Latham 
omits the stereotyped [on ground], merely calling 
it an " adverb, stranded, hindered by the ground 
from passing farther. 5 ' Hindered by what ground ? 
not "ground "in the sense we now commonly 
use it, of firm and solid earth, as " the ground " 
we tread on ; or metaphorically, " Tell us the 
'grounds' of your belief?" that is, "Tell us the 
firm basis on which your faith rests ? " In fact, 
there are two " grounds " in the English lan- 
guage which Dr. Latham has rolled into one in 
his explanation of " aground." The " ground " 
which, according to him, hinders the ships 
from passing farther, is not the same word 
as the " ground " we tread, and which- is 
often distinguished from it by the epithet 
" dry." 


** Now, if these boys had been at home, 
A-sliding on dry ground, 
Ten thousand pounds to one pennie, 
They had not all been drown'd." 

And so it would have been better if Dr. Latham 
had told us that there are two " grounds " in the 
English language, the ground of the land and 
the ground of the sea. One derived from the 
Icelandic grund, plantttes, terra, which we will 
call " dry ground ;" the other which shall be 
" wet ground," derived from grunn, vada, brevia, 
in which sense the word can scarcely be said 
to be obsolete, as it is of frequent occurrence in 
English literature, and still lingers in " aground," 
that is to say, fast on the shallows or grounds 
at the bottom of the sea, and also in " ground- 
swell, that is, the sea swell which rolls in over 
the shallows. We also speak of " coffee-grounds," 
that is, the sediment at the bottom of the liquid. 
Both "dry ground" and "wet ground" have 
their equivalents in Icelandic, " a grundi " would 
be on dry land ; " a grunni " would be on a 
shoal at the bottom of the sea. When the 
Northumbrian dialect was shattered, both were 
rolled into one word in sound, with two mean- 
ings as distant as black and white. The Ice- 
landic equivalents of " ground-sea " or " grounds 
swell," are " grunnfoll " and " grunnscefi," both 
of which the readers will find in Egilsson's 


We hasten on with our adverbs in u a-" : 
Alone. Here too Dr. Latham drops his [on 
lone], and- merely calls it an adverb meaning 
" only ; " but not content with letting " alone " 
alone, he goes on to make it an adjective. This 
is what he says : — 

Alone, adj. The exact details of the form of this word are ob- 
scure ; and they belong to minute philology, rather than to 
lexicography. The al-, in the first instance, looks like all. 
In lone, however, we have it without the a : a syllable which, 
viewed merely with respect to its form, may represent the 
initial of all, the French a, or Anglo-Saxon on. 

The second element, however, is one ; the construction of 
which is peculiar. 

He then treats the reader with some logical 
transcendentalism, which, even if Dr. Latham 
be right in asserting Dr. Guest to be of his 
opinion, certainly only shows how much two 
philologists of very different ability may agree 
in a mistake. The " one " and " ane " on which 
these learned men rely in certain passages, 
seem to us to be much more like forms of 
" own " than of " one ; " and even if they are 
forms of "one," they would not prove either 
that " alone " is to be dissected into " all one," 
or that it is an adjective. So far from this latter 
proposition having been proved, every one of 
Dr. Latham's quotations seems to show that 
" alone " is neither more nor less than an adverb. 
We believe it to be an adverb, and we believe 


it to be made" up of "a" and "lone," not of 
" all " and " one.'' What then is " lone/' which 
we may remark exists in " lone," " lonesome," 
and " lonely " and " loneliness," a fact in itself 
enough to show what the formation of the word 
really is. It is nothing but the Northumbrian 
" a laun " or " a Ion," both of which would be 
pronounced very nearly as our " alone." Now 
to do a thing " a laun " or " a Ion," is to do a 
thing by one's self, apart, privately, secretly ; 
" mcela a laun " is to talk aside ; " hylja hrse a 
laun " is clam occultare cadaver, " to bury a corpse 
by one's self." A base-born child is said to 
be " laun-getinn," that is " lone-begotten ; " 
" launkra " is a hiding-place in a corner ; 
"launjnng" is conventus clandestinus, what we 
should now call "a hole-and-corner meeting ; " 
from " laun," the feminine substantive, comes 
the verb " leyna," to conceal, pronounced " laina" 
as in " alane," and " leynigata," a lonely path. 
Hence come too our English " lane," a bypath, 
and many others. To be " alone," then, is to be 
by one's self, whether for a good or bad pur- 
pose, but as the life of the freeman in early 
times was open and above-board, as the differ- 
ence between murder and homicide lay in the 
one case in the concealment, in the other in the 
open avowal of the deed, any one who shunned 
the company of his equals was looked upon with 


an evil eye. But as the word waxed older, the 
spirit of that free and open life died away with 
the freeman himself and his rights. It became 
no longer a disgrace, though it might be misery 
to live alone and work and think alone, and so 
the old " a laun " with its uncanny feeling passed 
into our " lone " and " lonely " and " alone." 
Our "alone," therefore, now merely expresses 
" solitude," with no notion of evil. It is a mis- 
fortune not a fault. 

Along reminds us of Abroad, and we take 
them both together. The first Dr. Latham tells 
us is derived from the Anglo-Saxon " andlang," 
which, if it be genuine Saxon, can only contain 
the ideas of length and opposition ; the Saxon 
and Scandinavian inseparable particle "and-," 
German " ant-," being the remnant of a primeval 
separable particle or preposition. Its equiva- 
lents are the prepositions " and " in Gothic, the 
Greek " dvri," and the Latin "ante." We use 
this inseparable particle every day in " answer," 
and even in "end," which is the point of an 
object opposed to anything else ; the Germans 
use it in " antwort," in " antlitz," and many 
other words beginning with " ant-" and " ent." 
It is more than likely that it is the original of 
our conjunct "an," if, and that the true form 
of the word is " and ; " nay, that our everyday 
" and " itself is this very word. But this " and" 


of opposition, doubt, and suggestion, has in our 
opinion nothing to do with "along," which is 
merely our old friend the preposition " a " or 
"a" governing the adjective "long" from "langr, 
long, langt," and some substantive which has 
disappeared ; the notion throughout all the pas- 
sages quoted is one of lengthened progression 
in the same direction, of going along with the 
object in short, instead of opposition or of motion 
towards or against it. If this first meaning of 
the word be kept steadily in view, there will be 
no need for word-splitting in the case of " along," 
and for making it, as Dr. Latham does, a prepo- 
sition as well as an adverb. To prove his point, 
he quotes the vulgar expression, " it's all along 
on you," and "who is this 'long of?" the last 
from Stubbes* Anatomy of Abuses, ii. ; and to 
strengthen his opinion, as he brought up Dr. 
Guest as his backer in " alone," he brings up 
Mr. Wedgwood as his armour-bearer in " along," 
this being only one out of numberless occasions 
in which he falls back on that writer. We give 
the extract at length : — 

We must distinguish along, through the length of, from along, 
in the sense of causation, when some consequence is said to be 
along of or long of a certain agent or efficient principle. In the 
former sense long is originally an adjective agreeing with the 
object now governed by the preposition along. In the latter it 
is the O.-S. and A.-S. gelang, owing to, in consequence of; 
from gelingen, to happen, to succeed. ' Hii sohton on hwon 


]?at gelang wsere :' 'they inquired along of whom that was,' 
whose fault it was, from whom it happened that it was. — 
Wedgwood, Dictionary of English Etymology. 

We here observe with pleasure that Mr. 
Wedgwood confirms our assertion that " long " 
was originally an adjective agreeing with some 
object, but we differ with him when he calls 
" along " a preposition, it being invariably an 
adverb. With the last part of his statement we 
altogether disagree. The true rendering of the 
Anglo-Saxon, or rather of the Northumbrian, 
passage is, " they asked of whom " or " to whom 
that belonged." That we believe to be the 
meaning of the sentence, and we think that the 
Northumbrian " a long," and not the participial 
form " gelang," from " gelingen," is the original 
of " along." 

After splitting "along" into two parts of 
speech, the fact being that where it can be 
twisted into a prepositional force, it must always 
have a real preposition, such as "with" or "of" 
to help it out and govern the substantive which 
it is supposed to govern, Dr. Latham passes on 
to Alongst, which he calls an adverb meaning 
" along." But in this obsolete word we hail 
one of the strongest confirmations of our theory 
as to the origin of all these adverbs. " Alongst" 
is an adverb, but it means much more than 
" along," just as a superlative is a much better 


and stronger thing than either a comparative or 
a positive. Precisely as " along " is formed from 
" a " and " long/' so " alongst " is formed from 
the superlative of " langr, long, langt." This is 
" longst " or " lengst," and out of this an adverb 
" alengst" or "alongst" has been formed, which 
means not " along," but " alongest," it being, 
as is common enough in old Norse, a superlative 
adverb, meaning not longe but longissime in 
Latin. The meaning of " alongst " is therefore 
not merely " along," but along and much more ; 
as is plain by Dr. Latham's quotation, which he 
seems not to understand : — 

Hard by grew the true lover's primrose, whose kind savour 
wisheth men to be faithful and women courteous. Alongst, in 
a border, grew maidenhair. — Greene, Quip for an upstart 
Courtier, p. 6. 

The Turks did keep straight watch and ward in all then- 
ports alongst the sea-coast. — Knolles, History of the Turks. 

In the first of these the word means " farthest 
on," " at the very end," " after one had gone 
along as far as one could." In the second the 
Turks kept watch and ward all along their 
coast, from the very end on one side to the very- 
end on the other, as far as ever they could. 

Returning to " answer " for a moment, we 
may add that though Dr. Latham derives it 
from the "weak" Anglo-Saxon " andsvarian," 
it is more probably derived from the " strong " 

"answer;* "again;* and "against:* 6i 

Norse form " andsvara," and that the word is a 
reduplication like " lukewarm," " loupgarou," 
and others, as it contains the idea of opposition 
twice over. " Svara," akin to but not the same 
as " sverja " to swear, is in itself to " answer," 
as we see not only from the old Norse " svara," 
but from the modern Swedish and Danish 
" svara " and " svare ; " so that " answer " con- 
tains the notion of a reply repeated, first in the 
particle " an," and then in the verb " svara " 

Agen, Again, and Against. These are sepa- 
rate though kindred forms, and "again" and 
" against " stand in the same relation the one 
to the other, as " along " and " alongst." First, 
of " agen." This adverb, Dr. Latham says, " is 
used chiefly by the poets in cases where the 
spelling with * at * might lead to false pronuncia- 
tion, and spoil the rhyme." He thus treats it as 
identical with " again," except in poetry. But 
in truth it is a distinct form, and comes from a 
separate word, as we shall soon see. " Again " 
Dr. Latham derives from the Anglo-Saxon 
" ongeanes " without knowing how much nearer 
the word lies to the Scandinavian than to the 
Saxon element in English. The truth is that 
there are two parallel forms in Icelandic, 
" gegn," from which " agen " comes ; and 
" gagn," from which " again " comes. The pri- 


mary meaning of both is that of opposition and 
motion towards, and that is the primary motion 
of " again/' which is formed like all these ad- 
verbs in "a-" out of "a" and "gagn;" what 
happens " again " is something which meets 
you twice, which throws itself in your way. 
This primary meaning shows itself in " gainsay" 
and " gainstand," which are earlier forms than 
" againstand " and " againsay," and have their 
Icelandic representatives in " gagnstanda " and 
"gagnsegja." In Wycliffe we have — "We 
hopeden that he should have * agenbought ' 
Israel" (Luke xxiv. 21), that is, bought over 
again, redeemed ; and also Romans i. 4, " agen- 
rising " for " resurrection." From " gagn " the 
Icelanders made a substantive "gagn" meaning 
victory, " gain," because what opposes or thwarts 
one is fought and conquered, and so out of strife 
comes "gain." What opposes is often broken 
through, and so " gagn " in Icelandic means 
"through," as well as "opposed to." As for 
" gegn," it is almost in every respect a parallel 
form to " gagn." As for " against," which out 
of a superlative adverb has almost entirely passed 
into a preposition, we think that it originally 
came from " a gegn," because there is in Ice- 
landic a superlative of "gegn" which is an 
adjective as well as an adverb, " gegnst ; " thus, 
" hit gegnsta" the shortest way, the way which 


leads to some place most directly opposite to 
you, or, as they still say in the North, as well as 
in other parts of England, the " gainest " way. 
But " agen " and " again," though cognate, are 
distinct formations, and Dr. Latham has no 
right to confound and roll them into one. If 
he had sought for some prose quotations of an 
earlier date, he would have seen that as " gegn" 
and "gagn " are kindred collaterals in Icelandic, 
so are " again " and " agen ". in English. 

And now for Abroad, which Dr. Latham 
merely calls an adverb, giving no etymological 
hint about it. This word is in no sense a cor- 
relative of " along," as " broad " is the opposite 
of " long." It has nothing to do with breadth, 
while " along" has everything to do with length, 
and exists only in that idea. The first meaning 
of " abroad," whence all the rest naturally follow, 
is, like "agate" of which we have already 
spoken, and " away " of which we shall have to 
speak, one of travel or progression on a path 
or road. It is derived not at all from " broad," 
but from the old Norse feminine substantive 
"braut" or "brod," a way, a path, or road. 
This word itself is derived from " brjota," to 
break or open a path. Thence we have "a 
brautu" on a path or road, — in via ; and thence 
an adverb " abraut " or " abrot : " so " Reginn 
var abraut horfinn," " Regin had taken himself 


off, had gone away;" but as ways lead out of 
the land, a man who had gone away often left 
the country, or went, as we now say, " abroad," 
that is, quitted his native land. All the other 
meanings of the word spring from this ; as " out 
of doors" in the well-known line of Dr. Watts, 

" "Whene'er I take my walks abroad ; " 

that is, Whenever I go out of my house, and 
walk on any road, in any direction ; or, 

" Again the lonely fox roams far abroad," 

where Reynard tries many paths in the pursuit 
of prey. 

The old Norse " braut " has many children, as 
" brautingi," a vagabond or beggar ; and hence 
the proverb, " Bra$ eru brautingja erindi," 
"Beggar's business brooks no delay," which 
answers perhaps to our " Beggars must not be 
choosers." Here to-day and gone to-morrow, 
ever tramping on the road, they must take what 
they can get, and take it at once, or not at all. 

After " Abroad" we may as well take Away, 
the last of our adverbs in " a" in alphabetical 
order, though not the last of which we shall have 
to speak. In the case of this word, Dr. Latham 
returns to his " on way." Its first meaning, he 
says, is " in a state of absence," but he omits 
either to explain how "away" means in a state 


of absence, or to let it explain itself. It is the 
Northumbrian preposition "a" with "veg," from 
" vegr" in the accusative ; whence an adverb 
" aveg," pronounced " away," has been formed 
precisely in the same manner as all the rest ; 
a gotu or a gata, and d braut or a brot are its 
exact counterparts, and as in their case, all the 
meanings of " away " spring from the one 
primary sense of motion on a path or road. 

We have not nearly exhausted all these ad- 
verbs in " a," but we have only space for two or 
three more. 

Aloft, adv. [A.-S., on loyfte = in the lift or air.] 1. On high, 
above, in the air. 

This explanation as to the meaning of the word 
is no doubt right, but in all our reading we 
have not met the Anglo-Saxon form on loyfte^ 
though we have heard of on lyfte ; but here 
again it is not to the Anglo-Saxon but to the 
Scandinavian element of our language that we 
owe the word. Lopt or loft is the old Norse 
form, from which we get both our word " loft " 
as an upper chamber, which has now sunk into 
a room over a stable, though of old it had a 
nobler use (see Acts xx. 8, 9), where the slum- 
brous Eutychus, wearied with St. Paul's long 
sermon, sitting in a window, "fell down from 
the third loft" — or as we should now say from 
the third storey — "and was taken up dead." 
vol. 11. F 


That we take to have been the first meaning of 
the word, something raised or " lifted " from the 
ground ; thence it came to mean the air, which 
is the sense of the old Norse " lopt," the old 
English " lift," and the modern German " luft," 
being applied not only to what was raised by- 
man above the ground, but to what was spread 
by God above and around the earth ; finally it 
was used for what was supposed to be above the 
air, the sky or " heaven itself," which last is 
only another word for expressing the same thing, 
the arch " upheaved" above the earth. We need 
hardly add, after our other examples, that " aloft" 
is a genuine old Norse form, "a lopt" or "a 
loft ; " " vera a lopt," with the accusative of 
motion, sursum toller e y " to bear aloft ; " " vera a 
lofti," with the dative of rest, esse in sublimi y " to 
be aloft." From " loft " comes " lypta," to lift, 
and " lypting," the poop, half-deck, or raised 
and lifted stern of the old Norse ship. 

Aloof, adv. [A.-S. on lyfte = windward : see Aloft.] 

So says Dr. Latham ; but in the first place the 
Anglo-Saxon "on lyfte" does not mean to wind- 
ward, and in the next "aloof" has no connexion 
with "aloft" in any of its senses. It has nothing 
to do with the "lift" or air. It comes from 
"a hlaupi" or "a lopi," for the "h" is not 
essential, and 6 is only another form of writing 
" au," the pronunciation being very nearly 


" aloof." But "hlaup" or "lop" is the act of 
running, and " hlaupa" or " lopa" is to run, near 
akin to our Saxon " leap," but not the same in 
sense, the idea of motion being less prolonged 
in our "leap" than in the Norse "hlaup" and 
"hlaupa." There is another form, " hleypa," with 
the same sense, and from it comes "hleypingi," 
as from "hlaupa" comes "hlaupingi," both mean- 
ing runagates and vagabonds. A man who holds 
himself " aloof," then, is not one who, according 
to Dr. Latham, gets to windward of you, or gets 
" aloft," upstairs, or up into the air or heaven, to 
get out of your way, but merely one who, in 
plain English, runs away, and keeps at a re- 
spectful distance from you. In this way Spenser 
can describe his knight as saying, in his fantastic 
English of no age — 

" Then bade the knight this lady yede aloof, 
And to an hill herself withdraw aside." 

That is, " then the knight bade the lady run away, 
and withdraw aside to a hill." In this sense, 
too, a sinner may be said to be "aloof" from 
God or from grace. In the quotation given by 
Dr. Latham from Bacon the word looks very 
much as though it were used in its strict primary 
sense : — 

Going northwards aloof, as long as they had any doubt of 
being pursued, at last when they were out of reach, they turned 
and crossed the ocean to Spain. — ^Bacon. 


However that may be, though in its secondary- 
state its meaning is standing aside at a respectful 
distance, its first sense was running away from 
pursuit, and out of this the secondary and meta- 
phorical meanings have been derived. 

One more of these " a-'s" and we leave them. 

Askance, adv. Asquint ; sideways ; obliquely. 

Of this word Dr. Latham gives no derivation 
of his own, but after the quotations comes a long 
extract from Mr. Wedgwood, who, after throwing 
a good deal of etymological rubbish in our eyes, 
which makes such a dust that we can scarce see 
where we are, seems to consider its connexion 
with " scant and scanty" as undoubted, and sug- 
gests that the Icelandic " skammr" " short/' may 
have something to do with the " seance " of 
" ascance," after it has undergone such a change 
of consonant as is exhibited in the Italian 
" cambiare " and " cangiare." But though he is 
right in referring the verb to " scamp," to 
" skammr," as used of work done in a hurry, and 
therefore badly done, and as we may add, though 
it is true that a " scamp" is a good-for-nothing 
fellow, who slurs over all he has to do, and does 
nothing well, yet we cannot help thinking 
that Mr. Wedgwood is wrong in connecting 
" seance" with "skant" and " skanty," and that 
to use another derivative from " skammr," made 
after what has been called that " Bow-wow" 


theory of language, which would make every- 
thing "onomatopoeic," he talks a deal of "skimble 
skamble" stuff about "askance." This is the 
more odd, because in the passage about " askew," 
which Dr. Latham has also embodied in the 
dictionary, Mr. Wedgwood quotes the very Ice- 
landic word from which " askance " comes, but 
which he is as wrong in referring to " askew" 
as he is in referring " skammr " to " ascance." 
This word is " skakkr," he spells it " skackr," 
and probably had he known that the double "k" 
in Icelandic is an assimilation for nk, he would 
have seen at once that " skakkr " is as near akin 
to " ascance" or " askance," as, to use an Ice- 
landic proverb, " nose is to eyne." This forma- 
tion of "skankr" is corroborated by the old 
pret. of the Norse " hanga" to hang, which is 
" hekk," for " henk," and in other words where 
the same combination of k occurs. Such are 
"bekkr" and "bakkr," which are the counterparts 
of the Danish " banke " and " bsenk," and of our 
"bench" and "bank." But the meaning of 
" skakkr" or " skankr" is not that of shortness 
and haste as shown in "scant," "scanty," and 
" scamp " from " skammr," but of motion " side- 
long" or "aside;" it is the Latin obliquns, and 
the Icelandic " at lita a skakkt," or " a skankt " 
would exactly answer to our " look ascance " 
both in form and sense. 


We should be inclined to refer " askew" with 
Mr. Wedgwood to the Icelandic " skeifr," which 
is the German " s chief/' not "scheef," and the 
Dane " skiev," were it not for " skewbald/' 
of which we wish to say something under 
" Bald." 

What then is Bald ? All Dr. Latham tells us 
about it is, that it is an adjective, and the first 
sense he gives of it is " wanting hair/' despoiled 
of hair by time or sickness. His second is, 
" without natural or usual covering," and then he 
gives this passage from As You Like It, IV. 3 — 

" Under an oak, whose boughs were mossed with age, 
And high top bald with dry antiquity." 

This quotation might have suggested to him 
the first meaning of the word, which is " glisten- 
ing," " white," or " bright ;" it is the white scalp 
stripped of its hair, like the withered hoary top 
of an old oak, which raises its head to heaven 
stripped of leaves and bark. But besides this 
suggestive passage, we have " the bald-faced " 
stag, a common sign ; that is, the stag with a 
white blaze down his face ; and we have " skew- 
bald " of a horse, where " skew" denotes the 
variety of colour ; and " bald" the white, which 
is always one of the colours of a skewbald. Then 
we have " pie-bald," where " pie," from magpie, 
denotes the variety of coat, and " bald" is again 


white. But why is "bald" white? We think 
there can be no doubt that the notion of white- 
ness and brightness in " bald " comes from the 
glorious whiteness of the god Baldr's face, who 
was so white that the great oxlip, the Anthemis 
cotula was called " Baldrsbra," " Balder s brow," 
because the whiteness of its beaming petals was 
likened to the shining, glistening face of the sun- 
god. The word does not seem to mean stripped 
of hair, in Icelandic. The higher attributes of 
the god have clung to the word, and it means, 
" divine," " glorious," " mighty ;" but perhaps its 
sense of whiteness still lingers in the " Bald- 
jokul " in Iceland, which raises its hoary pate 
not far from Kalmanstunga. For our "bald" 
the Icelanders used " skollottr," of which -ottr 
is only the adjectival ending. Their word for 
baldness was " skalli," and the same word was 
used personally for " bald pate." - " Go up, 
* skalli, 5 " the children aiterwards eaten by the 
bears would have said to Elisha, had they spoken 
Icelandic. From this Norse root we have many 
words, as " skull" or " scull," the bones of the 
human head stripped of hair, skin, and flesh ; and 
again we have " scalp," the skin of the head 
without the hair ; and again we have " scald 
head," for the baldness caused by ringworm; 
and "scalding water" is water so hot that it will 
take the hair off, unless it comes from " skella," 


and means water that boils so fiercely that it 
makes a shrill, ringing sound. 

As we have said something about " skewbald," 
let us go back to " askew," and say why we think 
that the Icelandic word from which " skew " is 
formed is not " skeifr." The reason is this, 
the modern Icelandic word for a skewbald is 
"skjottr," and a horse skjottr is called " skjoni," 
and a mare of the same piebald colour, " skjona." 
Perhaps the difficulty may be solved by supposing 
skjottr to be itself a compound of skeif and the 
termination -ottr, so that the meaning would be 
the skew-coloured pied sort of horse ! But in 
favour of skjottr as an independent word, is the 
fact of the accent over the ottr, as well as the 
fact that it may be derived from "skjota," to 
shoot — pass rapidly with the eye from one colour 
of a skewbald horse to the other — in which sense 
we also use the word in English when we talk 
of a " shot " silk, meaning by the term, a silk in 
which various colours are so blended that the 
eye cannot tell what the true hue of the dress 
really is, so rapidly does it pass from one tint to 

From "bald" we go on to Balderdash, 
which Dr. Latham says is Welsh, " Balldorddus 
= imperfect utterance." As its first meaning he 
gives " lax and mixed language." Its derivation 
is not Welsh, but the Norse " baldrask," which 


makes in the past tenses " baldradisk " and 
" baldradask," from " baldur," noise, clamour, 
and the meaning of the verb is "to pour out 
noisy nonsense. Hence it came not only to talk 
nonsense, but it was used metaphorically for any 
vile mixture with which better liquor was adul- 
terated, and so the scandalous Geneva ballad 
of 1674, quoted by Dr. Latham, can talk of the 

" "When Thames was < balderdashe d ' with Tweed." 

And Mandeville on Hypochondria can speak of 
wine or brandy being " balderdashed " by simple 
water. First of all, the word meant to pour out 
nonsense noisily, and then it came to be used of 
pouring vile liquors, or even simple water, into 
generous wine, and so spoiling it. 

On very many occasions Dr. Latham, by 
taking his quotations too low down in time, 
confuses the meanings of words, or merely gives 
them their bad senses. 

Take Bully, which Dr. Latham defines to be 
" a noisy, blustering, quarrelling fellow (generally 
applied to a man with only the appearance of 
courage)/' Here we have only the modern 
meaning of the word, and no attempt is made to 
explain its history. And yet one of Dr. Latham's 
quotations under " apitpat," and another under 
" bully-rook/' might have put him on the right 


scent. When mine host of the Garter in the 
Merry Wives of Windsor says, " What says my 
bully-rook ? speak soberly and wisely/' he cer- 
tainly does not use the word in our modern 
sense. Nor again when the lady says, in Con- 
greve, " Oh ! there he comes. Welcome, my 
bully, my back — (a misprint in the New Dic- 
tionary for buck) — agad my heart is gone * apitpat 
for you ;' it is rather used as a pet term for 
endearment than as one of reproach. These 
quotations, which are Dr. Latham's own, should 
have held him straight. Here are two others, 
not in the New Dictionary, which will set the 
meaning in its true light. In that very rare work 
recently sold at Mr. Daniell's sale, entitled 
Meeting of Gallants at an Ordinaire, or the Walkes 
in Poules (London, 1 604), the " fatte " host tells 
tales at the upper " ende " of the table, and thus 
answers one of his guests who is supposed to 
allude to Shakspeare's Comedy of Errors, " O ! 
my bullies, there was many such a part plaide 
upon the stage." Here surely the host uses 
"bully" in no bad sense. Again, when Col. 
Robert Monro, in his Expedition zvith the worthy 
Scots Regiment called Mackeyes Regiment (Lon- 
don, 1637), thus speaks of himself, Part ii. p. 33, 
we may be sure a "bully" is used as a term 
of friendly endearment. He is describing what 
he calls the " intaking," that is, the storming of 


Frankfort-on-the-Oder, one of the sturdiest as- 
saults in the Thirty Years' War. " The valorous 
Hepburne leading on the battaile of pikes of his 
owne briggad, being advanced within halfe a 
pike's length to the doore, at the entry he was 
shot above the knee that he was lame of before ; 
which, dazling his senses with great paine, 
forced him to retire, who said to me, ' bully 
Monro, I am shot/ whereat I was wondrous 

Having thus rescued the word from its later 
and bad sense, we go on to ask what it 
originally meant ? Nothing worse than a rat- 
tling, roaring fellow, it may be, with better 
heart than brains, but still a good and true 
man. Monro, one of the bravest of the brave, 
would have challenged the " valorous " Hep- 
burne, even while his wound was yet green, if 
he had shared Dr. Latham's belief that the word 
was " generally applied to a man with only the 
appearance of courage." The word is near akin 
to "bull," concerning which Dr. Latham tells us 
next to nothing etymologically. All he says is 
this, "Bull [German and Dutch, bulk, bul\ 
male of black cattle ;" but bull etymologically, 
as well as physically, is a good deal more ; it is 
the noisy, roaring, bellowing beast, but not a 
cowardly beast for all that, any more than a 
" bully," or a " bully-rook " in the days of Eliza- 


beth or James was synonymous with " coward." 
The "rook" of the latter word we take to be 
the Icelandic " rakkr," " rokk," daring, dashing, 
so that "bully-rook" would be a dare-devil 
rattling blade, which is just the sense in which 
the word is used by mine host of the Garter, and 
because we men, and still more women, admire 
daring by a law of our nature, the dashing 
rattling word became a term of affectionate en- 
dearment. But that was in the coarse old days 
of beef and beer, and pike and headpiece. Since 
then we have become delicate and mincing ; we 
hate rudeness, roughness, and noise, and our 
forefathers, before the second half of the seven- 
teenth century had well begun, hated them too. 
Then "bully" got a third sense, of a noisy 
boasting braggart, who will oppress the weak, 
but fears to meet his equals in strength. This 
third sense is Dr. Latham's first. His first 
quotation is from Dryden's " Juvenal :" — 

" 'Tis so ridic'lous, but so true withal, 
A bully cannot sleep without a brawl," 

where the Latin satirist describes the Roman 
bully who cannot sleep a-nights unless he has 
thrashed some quiet citizen who cannot raise a 
hand in self-defence, in terms which exactly 
suit our Mohawks. After being thus dragged 
through the mud, the word, as was likely, never 


rose again, but sank and sank. So Pope, a 
century nearly after, could write : — 

"Where London's column rising to the sides, 
Like a tall bully lifts its head and lies," 

where lying is added to a bully's other base 
qualities. Now we know the word chiefly from 
the tyranny and "bullying" of big boys over little 
ones at great schools; but when in the police 
reports we see some vile fellow described as a 
" bully " at a house of ill-fame, we may yet 
discern some lingering traces of the woman's 
affection which makes Congreve's lady call her 
lover her " bully." 

Other words afford instances of ridiculous 
word-catching etymologies, which appeal neither 
to the ear nor to the sense. In most of these, 
Mr. Wedgwood has led Dr. Latham astray. 
In fact, like the Troll, who when he was 
eating rag-broth could not tell which was 
thick and which was thin, when we regard the 
etymological part of the new Johnson, we 
cannot tell which is Dr. Latham and which 
Mr. Wedgwood, so often does the former hurl 
the latter at our heads by pages-full. Take 
Balcony :— 

[From the Persian bala khaneh, upper chamber. An open 
chamber over the gate in the Persian caravanserais is still 
called by that name, according to Rich. The term was then 


applied to the projecting platform from which such a chamber 
looked down upon the outside. As this balcony over the 
gateway is precisely the position of the barbican in a castle- wall, 
it is probable that the latter name, in Mid. Lat. barbacana, is 
only another corruption of the same word which gives us 
balcony. If we compare the various modes of writing the word 
from which our belfry is derived, and especially the two, bel- 
fredum, bertefredum, we shall find nothing startling in the 
conversion of bdla khaneh into barbacana by persons by whom 
the elements of the word were not understood. A barbican 
was a defence before a gate, originally, doubtless, a mere pro- 
jecting window from whence the entrance could be defended, 
or the persons approaching submitted to inspection, the word 
being probably brought from the East by the Crusaders. Bal- 
cony is a much later introduction, and has accordingly better 
preserved the true form of the original. — Wedgwood, Dictionary 
of English Etymology. ~\ 

Now we have no hesitation in saying that 
all this etymology from the Persian is laborious 
trifling, and may be crushed by one little sen- 
tence from a greater philologist than either Dr. 
Latham or Mr. Wedgwood. This is what Jacob 
Grimm says about " * Balcony,' 'Balkon/ a pro- 
jection of balks or beams on which one can 
stand in the open air to enjoy a prospect; from 
the Italian Balcone, which itself was borrowed 
from our Balk." So that, instead of the Italians 
borrowing it from the Persians, they, in fact, 
took it from the Teutonic tribes, in all of which 
the word seems primeval : Old High German, 
" balco " or « palco ;" Old Saxon, " balco ;" Old 
Norse, " balkr " and "bjalki;" whence the 
Swedish and Danish " bjelke." Dr. Latham 


gives the Anglo-Saxon equivalent as " beelc." 
We should be glad to know on what authority. 
Early English, "balk," modern English, "balk," 
all meaning a beam, tignum. A balcony was 
simply such a projection of the main beams of 
the house as would afford room to stand on out 
in the air; and it is strange that Dr. Latham 
should not have seen this, because in the very 
next page to that on which all the stuff is 
quoted from Mr. Wedgwood, he quotes under 
Balk a deal more from the same authority, in 
which this passage occurs : " Hence," from balk, 
a beam, "also probably the Italian balco or ftalco y 
a scaffold, a loft-like erection supported upon 
beams." With regard to which we can only say 
that this sort of scaffold strikes one as being 
very like a balcony, which, on the opposite 
page, Mr. Wedgwood tells us comes from the 
Persian. But in this, as in many other cases, 
like Saturn he eats his children after begetting 
them, or, like Tom Thumb, he makes giants 
first before he slays them. Life is too short for 
such etymological trifling. 

To go on with "balk:" from this first sense 
of "beam" spring all the rest. Beams not only 
support houses, but they serve to divide them 
into rooms ; so a balk means a division, and 
not only one indoors, but out of doors also. 
The strip of sward left between ploughed land 


where two holdings would otherwise touch is 
called a " balk." In the Scandinavian races the 
sections of the law are called " balks/' but what 
divides you and cuts you off from something 
which you wish to reach, also checks and disap- 
points you, and cheats you of your desire. 
Hence a whole string of meanings of "balk," 
akin to which is " bilk," which sometimes ex- 
presses very nearly the same thing as "balk." 
So also " balkers," are men set up on a scaffold 
made of balks, to watch the shoals of herrings in 

Of Bastard, Dr. Latham gives no deriva- 
tion. The word appears nowhere before the 
time of our William the Bastard : " Iste Willel- 
mus quern Franci bastardum vocant. .... cut pro 
obliquo sanguine cognomen est bastardus" (Adam 
of Bremen, ii. 52, and iii. 51). And in his own 
deeds : " Ego Willelmus cognomine basfardus." 
It was not early French, and its origin must be 
looked for in the North. Grimm, sub voce, calls 
attention to the fact, that a Scandinavian jarl 
had a sword called " bastharSr," that is as hard 
as " bast ; " but " bast " is the inner bark of 
the linden-tree, and a sword as hard as " bast " 
could only be a mocking name, though the 
blade might be a good blade. So " bastard," as 
applied to a man, might mean a base son, and 
yet he might be a good man and true. Perhaps 


the termination "hard," or " ard," has nothing 
to do with the meaning, and the idea of de- 
gradation lies in " bast," which was used at any 
rate in German, like " straw," for anything vile 
and of no value. Here the old French ex- 
pressions, " filz de bast" "venir de bast" as 
applied to "bastards" would come in. Perhaps 
too "bastharSr" was given to William in his 
boyhood for some fancied weakness, which those 
about him, some of whom were also against him, 
had spied out. The expectation was belied by 
the daring and deeds of his after-life ; but the 
mocking nickname stuck to him. And so from 
the first " basthar^Sr" all base-born sons were 
called " bastards" From this sense it soon 
passed to other spurious and adulterated things. 
In Parzival, 552, 12, quoted in Grimm under 
bastart, that is, already in the thirteenth century, 
samit pastart, " bastard sammite " is spoken of 
as distinguished from the genuine stuff, and in 
English we spoke of bastard silks, meaning an 
inferior kind. It was also applied to Wine. 
Besides the "brown bastard," quoted by Dr. 
Latham from Henry IV., without explaining its 
relation to " bastard" in its first sense, there was 
a white bastard known in Germany as " wezszer 
bastart" and no doubt it was known in England 
as well as the brown kind. The Italian bastardo 
is a wild grape. The French charette bastarde is 
VOL. 11. G 


explained to be quce inter major em et minor em 
media est, and to this day icriture bdtarde is a 
kind of handwriting between the round and 
pointed Italian style. In the quotation given 
by Dr. Latham from Beaumont and Fletcher, 
bastard wine is described as being " heady and 
monstrous ; " every one of which instances 
shows that a degeneration or deterioration from 
a better sort is implied in "bastard." If Dr. 
Latham had turned to Grimm's first volume, 
and extended and arranged his English quota- 
tions, he would have given a more satisfactory 
account of this curious word. 

But if he is scanty under "Bastard," under 
Both Dr. Latham launches out into more than 
five columns of transcendental philology or 
philological logic, after reading which the reader 
feels as though he had swallowed five bowls of 
syllabub ; puffed out, and yet empty. Dr. 
Latham labours to give the word a Saxon 
derivation, — from the somewhat doubtful com- 
bination ba twd, which are Anglo-Saxon parallel 
forms, the one from " begen," and the other from 
" tvegen," " twain," — to do which he shuts his 
eyes to the difficulty raised by Mr. Garnett, that 
the cognate form " beide " exists in German. 
Then, according to Dr. Latham, "both" is a 
natural dual, not only in sense but in form ; it is 
also, according to him, both a pronoun and an 


adverb. Besides these statements, the five 
columns contain many abstruse and superfluous 
speculations as to " natural " duals in cognate 
tongues, which have very little to do with 
" both ; " we mean the speculations, for " both " 
has a long string of relations in the Gothic and 
classical tongues. It is a pity Dr. Latham, 
before he wrote this long story about " both," 
had not turned to " betde" in Grimm's Dic- 
tionary, published in 1854, where he would 
have seen all that Comparative Philology can 
do for the word ; and he would also have seen 
this sentence : " The inquiry how far dual 
flexions have come into play here, and have 
mixed themselves up with plural flexions, would 
lead us too far away.'' In our opinion, "both" 
is originally a numeral, ambo. It takes two 
things or two persons abstractedly, and sets 
them side by side, and thinks of them as one ; 
and this is enough to show that it is not a true 
dual or a " natural " dual, for a dual takes two 
things or persons together, and thinks of them 
as two. A dual, in short, without the notion of 
two, would be nonsense. " Both " may be used 
to supply the place of the perished duals " wit" 
and "git" — " we two" and "ye two," — in sen- 
tences where we speak of " both of us " or 
" both of you ; " but for all that it can never be 
a true dual. But besides being strictly a 


numeral, it is also a pronominal numeral, in 
which cases it answers to the Latin uterque. 
As " both " when it can be translated by ambo — 
the bo of which is the bo in " both " — means 
"two" taken together, so when it is translated 
by uterque, it means two taken separately, or as 
distinct component parts of a pair. The follow- 
ing passage from Caesar, De Bello Civili, iii. 30, 
shows excellently these two meanings of " both," 
as well as of ambo and uterque : " Csesar atque 
Pompeius diversa sibi ambo consilia capiunt, 
eodemque die uterque eorum ex castris exer- 
citum educunt," " Csesar and Pompey both take 
to themselves different counsels, and on the 
same day both [= either or each] of them lead 
their army out of the camp." In the first both, 
Caesar and Pompey are taken together, and re- 
garded as an unity ; in the second, they are 
resolved again into the two individuals which 
form the pair. 

We have already mentioned the parallel form 
beide, we now give the true derivation of both. 
It is nothing more nor less than the Northum- 
brian or Scandinavian baftt'r, pronounced bothir. 
In the course of time the -ir of the plural has 
been rubbed off, but " both " has remained. 
With this simple derivation from a word which 
is plural in form, and which is only dual in 
sense by a confusion as to the notion of a dual, 


all Dr. Latham's transcendental logic disap- 
pears, and instead of having to fall back on the 
somewhat apocryphal Saxon " ba tva," for 
though Dr. Latham reads "ba" without an 
accent, it has one as well as " tva," we have our 
"both" made to our hands. It is no slight 
confirmation of this view that the old English 
genitive bother or botheres, quoted by Grimm 
under beide, exactly answers to the old Norse 
masculine genitive bdftra, pronounced bothra, 
which is sometimes found, though less often than 
the common genitive for all genders, beggj'a. 

After Bait the substantive, and Bait the verb 
active in the sense to bait a horse, Dr. Latham 
puts a query to show his ignorance of their 
derivations. The substantive comes from the 
Icelandic substantive betta, in the sense of a bait 
for fish, and to bait a horse from the verb beita, 
to turn out to grass, which again comes from 
beit, grazing-ground, or the act of grazing itself. 
To bait a horse then was originally to turn a 
horse into a meadow, when horses were fed on 
grass alone, as they still are in Iceland. Now 
that we feed them on corn, to bait a horse means 
to give him a feed of oats. We may add that 
beita, which is akin to bita to bite, is pronounced 
" baita." 

But there is another verb to Bait, older and 
more savage. It also comes from a verb betta, 


the same in form, but with a different sense. 
Used in poetry first of violent action of any- 
kind, as of exciting to blows or sword-strokes, 
it came afterwards to mean to throw any one to 
the beasts, as in the expression, at beita einhvern 
hundum til bana, "to bait or torment any one 
to death by dogs." Hence came our bear and 
bull baits. Dr. Latham, in despair about the 
true derivation of the word, tells us it comes 
from the French battre == "to beat down," but, as 
we have shown, it has nothing to do either with 
battre or beat. 

From this same beita, to urge on, comes 
another English verb, which Dr. Latham has 
classed with Beat, which he says comes from the 
Anglo-Saxon beatan. We should have thought 
indeed that all the English " beats " came from 
the savage " beita/' to strike, drive on, urge on, 
bait ; but be it so ; if there be an Anglo-Saxon 
beatan, let it be the father of all our "beats," 
save the one we are about to rescue. This is 
" beat " in the sense of " tacking," which Dr. 
Latham says means "striving against the wind :" 
so it does, but by tacking ; in no other way. 
In Egillson's Dictionary we find beita skifti, navem 
obliquo vento obliquare, and absolutely without 
" skifti" beita, obliquo vento navigare. When the 
adventurous Earl Rognvald of Orkney set off 
with his chiefs for the Holy Land, sailing all the 

"BEAT" AND "AGAR." 87 

way from Kirkwall to Acre in Palestine, he was 
caught in a storm off the Durham coast, and 
being a good "skald" as well as bold sailor, 
he burst forth into extempore verse on the 
occasion : — 

; Off the muddy mouth of Wear, 
Out the boom to beat we bear.' 

In the original : — 

" Ut berum as at beita." 

Furthermore, when in shooting a dog beats a 
field, he does it by crossing backwards and for- 
wards, and to beat a cover is to go up and down 
through it. 

So again because a ship tacks, it is called 
" beit" and " beiti" and a sea-king is called 
" beitir" unless indeed the derivation went the 
other way, and beita, to beat or tack, came from 
beit, a ship. But there can be no doubt that to 
" beat" as a nautical term, came from the Scan- 
dinavian beita, pronounced, be it remembered, 
« baita." 

While we are thinking of the sea, let us say a 
few words about Agar, which Dr. Latham tells 
us is the same as "Eagre" reserving himself, 
we suppose, for that word to say more about it. 
But we prefer to say something about "Agar " 


now, the more so as, except in the very interesting 
quotation from Lyly's Galathea, the Dictionary 
gives us no information at all about the word 
than that it is "rare." The following is the 
quotation : — 

" He [Neptune] sendeth a monster called the agar, against 
whose coming the waters roare, the fowle flie away, and the 
cattle of the field, for terror, shun the banks." — Lyly, Gala- 
thea, i. i. 

This refers to the " Agar " or " Eagre " of the 
Trent and some other English rivers, in which, 
at certain times of the tide, a " bore " rises to 
the height of many feet. But why was it called 
"Agar" or "Eagre," and why, according to 
Lyly, does Neptune send this monster at whose 
approach all nature is so scared ? Because the 
monster that Neptune sends is no other than 
a personification of Neptune himself. " It is 
" ^Egir" which you may call " Agar " or 
"Eagre" if you will, the great god of the sea 
himself, who thus leaves his own domain, and 
rushes up the rivers to affright the land. Fire 
and storm are his brothers, the rolling waves 
are his daughters, gold is called his flame. Ran 
is his wife. Hers are all those who are drowned, 
with them her wide hall is filled. He is in 
general a terrible god, but he is especially 
styled ^Egir Engla, " the terror of the English." 
When he puts on his ^Egishjalmr, " his helm of 


fear," he is so awful, that the expression passed 
from him to all sorts of fear, and "to over- 
shadow any one with ^Egir's helm," came to be 
a term for giving any one what we should call 
" an awful fright." It is not at all certain that 
our " Ogre " does not come from him, for " Ogr " 
is another form of his terrible name. And so 
this ^Egir, the god of the sea, has sunk to be 
the mere name of a high tide. 

From Ran, his wife, who catches the drowned 
in her net and holds them fast, but treats them 
well in her hall, we have a whole host of Scan- 
dinavian derivatives, all of which relate to wrong 
and robbery, and robbers were called rdnarar, 
and robbery " ran," from the goddess who stole 
the bodies of shipwrecked sailors. Some have 
sought her name in our " ransack" a word which 
stands alone in English, and is unintelligible 
till the connexion between it and its Scandi- 
navian cousins is explained. To " ransack " is 
to search thoroughly, to leave no stone unturned 
to find anything out. It comes from the Ice- 
landic " rannsaka" to make a legal inquiry, or 
perquisition as the French would say, in a house, 
and to search it from top to bottom for stolen 
goods or for offenders. The first part of the 
word is " rann" cedes, domus, and the last is the 
legal word "saka" to accuse or proceed against 
any one at law, to have cause of action against 



any one. When in English we say " do this for 
my sake" we only mean do it " because of me," 
or " in my cause." From its legal sense it passed 
to any inquiry, but always with the notion of 
thoroughness and completeness, and our Eng- 
lish " ransack " certainly implies turning every- 
thing topsy-turvy, very often with the idea of 
plunder added. With us it almost means to 
carry off as well as to search. 

For Anger Dr. Latham has no better deriva- 
tion to propose than the Latin angor = distress. 
He defines • it to be il indignation attended with 
irritation and mental disturbance/' and he gives 
" pain " as its secondary sense. In doing this 
he has just reversed the history of the word. 
But first for its derivation. It is a true northern 
word, wanting, so far as we know, in Anglo- 
Saxon, and has come into English from North- 
umbria. In the earliest poetry of the North 
we find the neuter substantive dngr, dolor, 
cegritudo. Side by side with it we have the 
parallel and feminine substantive " dngist" 
answering to the old German august and the 
modern angst. The original meaning of all these 
words is grief that knows not which way to turn, 
from the root angi in old German, the new 
German enge, and the Gothic aggvus, where no 
doubt the double g was sounded ng as the 
double k in words already quoted. The Latin 


angushtSy anxius, for angsius, angustia, and angor 
are from the same root, expressing the sorrow 
which arises from being in a strait. Bange, as 
Grimm well points out, is from the same root, 
for bange is only be-ange, be-engt, that is, driven 
into a . corner or strait. So much for the first 
stage of the meaning of this old word, at which 
the German and Latin stopped. In the North 
the meaning was carried further still. It is but 
a step, as we should say, from grief to wrath, 
and so we find in Northern poetry the masculine 
substantive dngr for res molesta, res ingrata, and 
the verb dngra> governing both the dative and 
accusative. With the first the notion of grief 
or trouble seems still to prevail, as harmr strdngr 
foer mer dngrat, "strong grief (harm) angers 
me," i.e., " troubles my mind ;" while with the 
latter the notion of wrath is getting the better 
of grief. " Or$ \au, er dngra fyrfta" " those 
words that anger (enrage) the people." \au \ing 
of dngru¥>u \engil" "those things angered the 
king very much," where Egilsson translates 
" regis (minium exasperarunt." From these words 
come very many derivatives. In English we 
have carried the notion of wrath further still, 
and have nearly suppressed the notion of grief 
in anger. But if any one will compare the word 
with "wrath," as both occur in our literature, 
he will soon see that " wrath " is a far hotter 


thing than " anger," which always presupposes 
a feeling of grief and vexation in the mind of 
the angered person ; in wrath, on the other hand, 
the notion is rather that of a fierce and furious 
thirst for vengeance. Perhaps we may define 
them by saying that "anger" is wrath at rest, 
and "wrath" anger in action! Anger is the 
grief and vexation which sits in a strait with 
folded hands. Wrath, which also is from the 
North, from rev§i> is up and doing ; a wrathful 
man is a u ready " man, who avenges with his 
hands what his heart feels. The word probably 
comes from rei¥>a, toller e, ferre, agere, movere, and 
Egilsson, under rer6r the adjective, while he 
gives its first meaning as iracundus, 'adds, that 
it can be as often as not rendered alacer, magno 
ardore rem administratis. 

Under Bedrid and Bedridden Dr. Latham 
is again in error. " Bedrid" he tells us, comes 
from the Anglo-Saxon bedrida. We are ignorant 
of any such form, though we know many Ice- 
landic forms by which the word might be ex- 
plained. In that tongue there are a number of 
compounds which end in -rfiSi in the masculine 
and -rrSa in the feminine, atrifti, ballrz*8i, blakk- 
ri^i, &c, in all of which rifti means " he who 
rides " or " is carried." So too for the feminines 
there are, kveldri^a, myrkri¥>a> tunri^&a, &c, where 
ri$a means " she who rides " or " is carried." 


Thus blakkri^i is " the man who rides on a 
black horse/' while kveldri^a is " the hag who 
rides at night/' The termination comes from 
the intransitive ri*8a, "to ride, or be carried," 
equitare, vehor. But besides this derivative, -ri%i 
or -ri^&a, ri%a has a past participle ri^Sinn, which 
does not mean ridden in our sense, as when we 
say " a horse is ridden," but " one who has 
ridden," " who has been and is carried ;" qui 
vectus est vel fuit, as Egilsson has it. Now 
whether bedri^a or beSri^a be a Saxon form we 
know not ; but this we know, that as " beSr " is 
very good Icelandic for " bed," so be^ri^i or beS- 
ri¥>a would be quite legitimately formed on the 
analogy of the words already quoted, the one 
meaning a " bedrid" man, the other a " bedrid " 
woman. That is, a man or woman who rests 
on a bed and is borne by it. 

In the same way we may form, and not only 
form, but understand, "bedridden," from the 
masculine participle beSri^Sinn, in Icelandic, a 
word formed on the analogy of " rammriftinn," 
and many others. But, as we have already 
proved, the meaning of this " be¥>ri¥>inn " does 
not bear our passive sense of " ridden," as when 
we say a horse is " ridden" using the participle 
of the intransitive verb, all action ceases and 
rest takes its place. In other words, we regard 
the rider, him who sits or is borne on the horse, 


and not the horse. We say, therefore, in Ice- 
landic, that a man "ri^r," "rides." We also 
speak of him as ri^andi, " riding," and as ri*&tnn> 
"carried or borne on a horse." In modern 
English we generally use the transitive sense 
of the verb to ride as regards a horse ; but yet 
we often use the intransitive in an expression 
sometimes thought vulgar, when we talk of 
" riding " in a coach ; though it is just as good 
English to use " ride " as an intransitive as a 
transitive verb. We say " bedridden," and no 
one smiles, though few can explain it ; but if we 
said coachridden, or horseridden, every one would 
laugh. We use the participle of the transitive 
" to ride" when we say a country is priest-ridden, 
where we regard the country in the light of a 
horse who has got a rider on his back. Riddeit, 
what is ridden ? the country ; who rides the 
country ? a priest. Here the action is carried 
on. When, on the other hand, we say "bed- 
ridden," we use the participle intransitively. It 
is not the bed which rides the man, but the 
man who is borne by the bed. " Bedrid " and 
" bedridden " are therefore two equally good 
but distinct forms ; the one is a termination 
meaning rest on some object, whether in motion 
or not, the other is a past participle of an in- 
transitive verb, from which the termination also 
comes, meaning also rest on some animate or 


inanimate object. This is the true history of 
these forms. Of " bedridden " Dr. Latham tells 
us that it is u catachrestic for < bedrid,' which 
is not a participle." In his temporary preface 
he tells us : — 

" In a genuine catachresis, there must be not only an original error 
in language, but an error that is adopted, and held to be no error 
at all. Nor is this all. It must simulate a true form ; in other 
words it must follow an analogy, though a wrong one." 

No doubt there are many such forms based on 
false analogies in English, but bedrid and bed- 
ridden are not of them. Nor do we think that 
Dr. Latham is always very happy in his attempts 
to explain phrases or idioms by what he calls 
a " catachresis." Take, for example, the fol- 
lowing under "all" "I think that in some 
cases, especially in such phrases as ' lose one's 
all/ this sense may be a Latinism, catachrestic 
for naulum = passage-money, as in furor est post 
omnia perdere naulum." One would have thought 
that to lose "one's all" was sufficiently plain 
English to require no explanation at all, 
least of all such a far-fetched one as that 
just given. 

" Apple-pie," under one of its idioms, is a 
catachresis, but is that any reason why the word 
should be altogether left out of the Dictionary, 
though the obsolete " applemos" is inserted ? 
Under Apple, too, why are we not told that in 


early English an "apple" was used of the fruit 
of any tree ? — 

"Impe on an ellere, 
And if thine appul be swete 
Much wonder meseemeth," 

says Piers Plowman of an elder- tree, referring 
to the popular belief against that tree, which 
was supposed to be the kind of tree on which 
Judas went and hanged himself. We still talk 
of the fruit of the potato as " apples ;" and we 
speak of "gall-apples" and "oak-apples" on the 
oak ; we call fir-cones "fir-apples" so that even 
yet the practice has not quite gone out. Other 
nations, too, call the pupil " the apple of the 
eye " as well as we ; thus, in Iceland, " sjonepli," 
" the sight-apple," for the pupil, and just as we 
used " apple " for any fruit, they used oak, eik y 
for any tree. 

The word " apple," of which Dr. Latham does 
not even give the Anglo-Saxon equivalent, ceppel, 
plural cepple, is one of the most widely spread 
and interesting words in English. It stands 
with its cognates in the Celtic, Slavonic, Ger- 
man, and Lithuanian tongues well defined against 
the malum andpomum of the Greeks and Romans, 
and it means any round, full-hanging fruit in 
general, though it is commonly limited to the 
fruit of the apple-tree. It holds its own against 
the classical tongues, in the same way as " ape," 

'•pie" and"appie-pie: 


German " affe," Old Norse, " api," stood up for 
their own against simius and simia, French singe. 
"Ape" probably means the "gaping," "wide- 
mouthed beast, just as simius, from the Greek 
aijAos, means the " snub-nosed beast." Much 
more comparative philology, and of the most 
interesting kind, might be spent on these two 
words, but of one Dr. Latham, who spends so 
much powder on a flash in the pan on Both, 
gives no derivation at all; of the other, he 
merely tells us it comes from the Anglo-Saxon 

Having put forward the claims of Apple-Pie, 
we should like to ask what "apple-pie order" 
is ? Does it mean in order or in disorder ? We 
rather incline to the latter, and think it means, 
or meant originally, in a muddle. We think, 
too, it is a " catachresis," to use a favourite term 
of Dr. Latham's, and that it has nothing to do 
with "apple" or " pie" in the common sense of 
the words. We believe it to be a typographical 
term, and that it was originally " Chapel pie." 
A printing-house was and is to this day called 
a Chapel — perhaps from the Chapel at West- 
minster Abbey, in which Caxton's earliest works 
are said to have been printed — and "pie "is type 
in a mess after having been accidentally broken 
up, and before it has been re-sorted. "Pie" in this 
sense came from the confused and perplexing 



rules of the " Pie," that is, the order for finding 
the lessons in Catholic times, which those who 
have read or care to read the Preface to the " Book 
of Common Prayer," will find thus expressed and 
denounced. Here is the passage : — •" Moreover the 
number and hardness of the rules called the Pie, 
and the manifold changings of the service, was 
the cause that to turn the book only was so hard 
and intricate a matter, that many times there 
was more business to find out what should be 
read than to read it when it was found out." 
To leave your type in "pie" is to leave it un- 
sorted and in confusion, and " apple-pie order," 
which we take to be "chapel-pie order," is to 
leave anything in a thorough mess. Those who 
like to take the other side and assert that 
" apple-pie order" means in perfect order, may 
still find their derivation in "Chapel pie;" for 
the ordering and sorting of the "pie" or type is 
enforced in every "chapel" or printing-house by 
severe fines, and so " chapel-pie order" would 
be such order of the type as the best friends of 
the Chapel would wish to see. 

Why too when the Almug trees that Hiram 
brought from Ophir for the temple are men- 
tioned, are the unhappy Algum trees in the 
parallel passage in the Book of Chronicles not 
given ? One has as much right to a place in 
the Dictionary as the other ; perhaps "Algum" 


rather than "Almug," which we think were 
decidedly not "almond" trees, amygdala, as Dr. 
Latham suggests, for no almond-tree is of value 
for timber. 

Why too when inserting Ait as a small island 
in a river, and referring us to eyot for further 
information, does he not tell us that the " t " in 
this little word is one of the remains of Scandi- 
navian forms in English ? The original of the 
word is " ey" an island — not necessarily a small 
island, but any island. But ait is something 
more than " island " or an island, it is the island, 
"ey-it." It being a peculiarity of the Scandi- 
navian tongues to make the definite article a 
suffix, thus — md$r, man, ma&rinn, the man, ey, 
island, eyit, the island, eyit, eyt, and then ait, 
which again is pronounced just as the Icelandic 
original. "We daresay Dr. Latham will deny 
this Scandinavian origin, and assert that " eyot" 
is only a little "ey," the ot being a diminutive 
termination, but he will have hard work to make 
" ait" out of the Anglo-Saxon ea, or when he 
has so derived it to give a more plausible account 
of the "t" than that just given. 

Adventure, another very interesting word, is 
dismissed most drily by Dr. Latham. He tells 
us it comes from the French aventure, that its 
first meaning is "accident, chance, hazard," and 
its second "haphazard," or when it is preceded 


by " at all," the combination at all adventures. 
Here, again, we have the first meaning of the 
word entirely missed. Before "adventure" 
came to mean "chance," "accident," or "hazard" 
it meant the setting out on some search of a 
doubtful and dangerous result, on a daring 
" quest" of strange and uncertain event ; on a 
deed of daring, whether in religion, love, or war. 
Such searches, quests, and deeds formed the 
pastime of Arthur, " the blameless king," and 
the great champions of his Table Round. An 
" adventure" in this sense was a plunge from 
the dull routine of every-day life into the un- 
known realms of chivalry and romance. Around 
it hung the charm of novelty and mystery. It 
might be followed by risk ; those who went out 
on it might be the playthings of blind chance, 
and it might end in accident or death; but 
these were only the consequences of an " adven- 
ture," not the adventure itself, which belonged 
altogether to a higher and nobler nature than 
that which makes danger or accident, or death 
itself, the first consideration of a man. Sir 
Galahad's search for the " Holy Graal," the 
hallowed cup of the sacrament, was an " adven- 
ture" in this its first sense. The "Aunters of 
Arthur," that is, the Adventures of Arthur, pub- 
lished by the Camden Society, are a series of 
such quests, and Dr. Latham, under the letter 


A, might have given Aunter for Adventure, as 
well as Anchor for Anchoret. 

But besides these " adventures" of religion 
and knight-errantry, there were those of love. 
Lancelot's dealings with Guinivere were adven- 
tures, and so were the tender passages between 
Tristan and Isolde. So far was this spirit of 
adventure carried by the German poets, that 
they personified the notion, and called her 
"Lady Adventure," Frau Aventiure, as Grimm 
has well shown in his little essay, "Frau Aven- 
tiure klopft an Beneke's Thilr." We too still talk 
of " adventures" in love and in war, and though 
we use peradventure as equivalent to " perhaps," 
and so rather regard the chance and accident, 
which are the secondary meanings of the word, 
we have not yet altogether lost our feeling for 
its original sense. So we talked, too, of " adven- 
turers," as when Sir John Davis says in the 
passage quoted by Dr. Latham, that Ireland was 
conquered by " adventurers and other voluntaries 
who came to seek their fortune." Now, we 
rather use the word as one who has nothing to 
lose, and therefore is ready to run all risks ; 
but adventurous is still synonymous with courage 
and daring, and Macaulay talks of "men of 
steady and 'adventurous' courage," in the 
highest sense. To treat a word so full of poetry, 
and with such a history, in this dull prosaic 


way, is not only to rob a dictionary of one of 
its greatest charms, but also to treat the word 
itself with the greatest injustice. 

Under Blusterous, Dr. Latham, again led 
away by Mr. Wedgwood and the bow-wow 
theory, labours to show that in the combination 
" bl," we have a number of words formed on 
the " onomatopoeic" or " imitative" principle. 
We have no desire to ignore the bow-wow theory 
altogether, but a theory, like a horse or a 
donkey, may be ridden or driven to death. In 
other words, we believe that other principles 
than the "imitative" lie under language. So 
therefore though one may admit that " blow" 
and "blast" and "bluster" may be formed on 
the imitative principle, we should be inclined to 
deny that "blaze" or "blush" are formed on 
the same principle as " blow" and " blast." Dr. 
Latham says that Blaze is " a rush of flame," 
as if the first notion in the word was the 
draught of air which sends up a blaze of flame. 
But this draught of air or rush of flame appears 
in none of his quotations. He then brings 
forward another substantive "blaze," with the 
sense " mask, blazon," and quotes Cowley's 
Account of the Plagues of Egypt, in which he 
says that the sacred ox had "a square 'blaze' on 
his foreheads This " blaze" on the forehead 
of Apis ought to have opened Dr. Latham's eyes 

"BLAZE" AND "BLUSH." to 3 

as to the true meaning of both his substantives, 
for as he sometimes rolls two words into one, 
he has here cut one into two. A "blaze" on 
the forehead of any animal is a white stripe 
down the face. Blair Athole, the winner of the 
Derby this year, had such a " blaze," and the 
" blaze " of a fire is only white flame, as opposed 
to red flame. We turn to our Icelandic, and 
there we find that "blesi" is the name for a 
horse with a " blaze," and " blesa" the name 
for a mare with such a mark. We also find an 
adjective " blesottr," for a blazed horse. These 
words would be pronounced as if spelled " blazi," 
" blaza," and " blazottr." The notion of white- 
ness is therefore fixed, but "blesta" is also 
" iron at a white heat," where we have the 
notion of whiteness and fire combined. But 
what is fire at a red heat, it may be asked, 
if "blaze" is fire at a white heat? We have 
the word, though in English we only use it 
in a secondary sense. It is Blush, which 
Dr. Latham says comes from the Saxon ablisian; 
its meaning, he says, is "to betray shame 
or confusion by a red colour." But why do 
we call this red colour a "blush?" Because 
"blossi" is the poetical Icelandic or Northum- 
brian for " red flame," and we know that it was 
also applied to what we should now call a blush. 
When old Egil Skallagrim's son, the famous 


Icelander who stood so stoutly by Athelstane 
at the battle of Brunanburgh, was of extreme 
old age, and his feet were icy cold, he said, as 
he tried to warm his heels at the fire, "These 
widows have need to blush." But "heel," the 
Icelandic for " heel," is also a poetic word for a 
" widow," and so, by a play of words, he meant 
" these heels have need of the fire." From 
" blossi " we have " blossa," to flame, to burn 
red ; and " blys," pronounced " blus," a torch. 
It is from this family of words, and not from 
"ablisian," that we get our "blush," which 
contains the notion of " red," while " blaze " is 
the very word for " white flame." 

Here we must stop, not certainly because we 
have no more fault to find, but because we have 
found enough to prove our point. Johnson's 
Dictionary was a wonderful work, and so no 
doubt was Noah's Ark ; both answered their end 
well when they were first made, but neither 
would suit the wants of our time. In Johnson, 
the etymology was almost invariably wrong, the 
quotations insufficient and often ill-chosen, and 
the explanations absurd. That is to say "wrong," 
" insufficient," " ill-chosen," and " absurd " for 
our age. A hundred years ago, when men 
knew no better, they passed muster, nay, they 
were beyond the knowledge of the world. But 
the world goes on, science spreads, we are wiser 


than our forefathers, we know more about our- 
selves and our language. Regions of thought 
and learning, of which they never dreamt, lie 
stretched before us; our old guides no longer 
stand us in good stead. They must be mended, 
or we shall have to hurl them behind us to the 
moles and bats. Here too the words of warning 
ring in our ears, "Let the dead bury their dead." 
Something might have been made of Johnson's 
Dictionary, if the etymology had been wholly 
re-written, the quotations multiplied and ar- 
ranged in order of time, and the definitions 
rendered more reasonable. Whether the work 
so handled would have been Johnson's Dictionary 
or not, is quite another question. To some minds 
it would have been like the knife which, after 
having six new blades and five new handles, is 
said to be still the same knife. But to others it 
would still have been Johnson's Dictionary. In 
the present edition, we have almost every one 
of Johnson's errors and Todd's absurdities, with 
others which neither Johnson nor Todd would 
have committed. The truth lies in a simple 
sentence. Johnson was before his age, Dr. 
Latham is behind it. The one knew many things 
of which no one else was aware, and so his work 
brought light to their eyes ; the other seems not 
to be aware of many things which every one 
who has any right to call himself a philologist 


must know, and thus his work serves rather to 
blind than to enlighten. Johnson's etymology 
we now see to be entirely wrong, but it was 
the best the age afforded. We now see in it 
nothing but confusion ; but Dr. Latham's is 
confusion worse confounded. In this notice we 
have mainly striven to show how, after the long 
battle between the dialects which followed the 
Conquest, the Northumbrian or Scandinavian 
form of speech gained the day in many expres- 
sions over the West Saxon ; and having esta- 
blished this fact, we have shown the mistakes 
into which Dr. Latham has fallen, by referring 
such expressions to pure Saxon forms. In all 
cases where the Northumbrian forms are nearer 
to our modern English equivalents than the 
parallel Saxon forms, we have thought that the 
Northumbrian and not the Saxon is the source 
whence they have sprung ; but we have also 
shown that many of these Saxon forms which 
Dr. Latham brings forward are either imaginary, 
or so overstrained, as to answer to the modern 
English neither in sound nor sense. We have 
already shown that he is not happy when 
he has to explain a purely Norse word like 
" anger ; " and under Boulder the reader of 
the Dictionary will find an absurd attempt to 
explain a very simple word. "Boulder" Dr. 
Latham derives from the Swedish " bauta-sten" 


Now, what is this Swedish " Bauta-sten ? " It 
is almost letter for letter with the old Norse 
" bauta-steinn ; " which again is a compound 
formed from bautt, a warrior, derived from the 
old verb " bauta" akin to beita and our " beat" 
" slay." " Bauta-steinn" and the Swedish 
"bauta-sten" are nothing more nor less than 
the " standing-stones " so common in Scotland 
and the North, which were set up to mark the 
spot where a brave warrior had fallen in fight 
and lay buried. As if to distinguish them more 
thoroughly from "boulder," they are almost, 
without exception, stones cleft as the strata lie, 
and however much they may be weathered, they 
still show the ragged edge which marks the 
handywork of man. They are the earliest tomb- 
stones which the North can show. But what is 
" boulder ? " Let Dr. Latham answer. It is a 
" fragment of rock, which has partially lost its 
angularity after removal from its original site." 
Just so ; it is a block of stone rounded by the 
water and ice which have borne it from its native 
bed. This roundness is the notion which is con- 
tained in the word. Its Northern original may 
be found in the Icelandic " bb'llr" the Danish 
"bold" and Swedish "ball" and our English 
" ball" which Dr. Latham derives from the 
French "balle" but which probably came from 
Northumbrian " boll" or " baul" as the word 


seems to be wanting in Anglo-Saxon. Be that 
as it may, " boulder " has certainly nothing to 
do with " bauta-sten," and as certainly means a 
round water-worn rock. 

Ark, again, Dr. Latham derives from the 
Latin " area" adding that it was " introduced 
during the Anglo-Saxon period." * Yes ! no doubt 
during the Anglo-Saxon period, but by the 
Anglo-Saxons themselves, who brought it with 
them into the land. It is a very old word. Gothic, 
arka ; old High German, archa ; modern Ger- 
man, arche ; Anglo-Saxon, earc ; old Norse, 
ork genitive arkar, and ask for ark ; English, 
ark. The Latin area is only cognate, and has 
nothing to do with the derivation of our English 
word. Its first meaning is chest, coffer, bin, as we 
have it in the Bible in the " ark " of the Taber- 
nacle, and the "ark" of bulrushes on which 
Moses was exposed as a child ; but because the 
ship which Noah built was like a huge box or 
chest, it was called an ark. Dr. Latham, as 
usual, has confused his quotations by placing 
Noah's ark first, and by adding the meaning of 
"chest" at the end. The word, he admits, is 
still used in that sense in the northern counties ; 
and those who agree with us rather than with 
him will see in our "ark" a pure Northum- 
brian form, which, both in spelling and 

* " Earce innan." — Ccedus Thorpi, p. 82. 


sound, has ousted the West-Saxon " earc" or 

We are curious to see what Dr. Latham 
will make of such undoubted Norse words as 
"threshold," which has as much to do with 
" threshing " and " holding " as the German 
" armbrust" from " arcubaiista" has to do with 
" arm " and " brust." Costermonger, too, is a 
philological nut, and cannot be ignored, as the 
word is used by Shakspeare. An English Dic- 
tionary is a task not lightly to be attempted, and 
one may break one's neck at every step. Such 
a work, therefore, should be treated with for- 
bearance in minor faults, and we are not inclined 
to make much of such confusing errors of the 
press as " Van Harmer's History of the Assassins" 
where Von Hammer Purgstall, the great Oriental 
scholar, is turned into a name which, under a 
Dutch form, reminds us of a distinguished Old 
Bailey attorney and thief-catcher, who was also 
an Alderman of London. But, on the whole, 
we may say, that if the parts of this Dictionary 
which have yet to appear are not a great im- 
provement, both in etymology, quotation, and 
arrangement, on these six which have already 
seen the light, this new edition of Johnson's 
Dictionary will be very far behind the wants of 
the age. 


(I8 5 0.) 

Now, the quarrel between the Greeks and Eng- 
lish arose, as the Greeks themselves say, pretty 
much in this wise : — For a long time the Greeks 
had been subject to the Turk, who made them 
hewers of wood and drawers of water, besides 
ill-treating them in many other ways ; but the 
rest of Europe took it ill, seeing the Greeks, a 
small and weak people, kept down and enslaved 
by the Great Turk. So the whole Christian 
world was shaken from one end to the other by 
the friends of Greece, and at last the French and 
the Germans, and the English and the Russians, 
egged on the Greeks to rise against their, mas- 
ters, and sent them men, and ships, and money 
to help them to throw off the yoke. And after 
much fighting the Turk was driven out, and the 
Greeks were free, and all the barbarians clapped 


1 1 1 

their hands, saying, " Greece is free ! come let 
us set a King over her, and let her be one of the 
family of nations." So they looked about, and 
with much ado chose Otho the Witless, or Lack- 
brain, a Prince of the barbarian German Bava- 
rians, and made him King of Greece, and looked 
for thanks. But they reckoned without their 
host, for the Greeks were not so thankful as they 
should have been, inasmuch as they sent heralds 
and an ambassage to ask for more money, say- 
ing, " You have made us a nation and given us 
a King, now therefore lend us some money, that 
we may live like freemen, as befits the offspring 
of those who fought at Marathon and Ther- 
mopylae." So the French, and the Russians, 
and the English took counsel, and agreed to 
lend the Greeks money, if they would promise 
to pay the interest regularly, and to repay the 
principal by instalments ; but when the herald 
came to the Germans, those barbarians buttoned 
up their breeches-pockets after the fashion of 
their country, and bade him go about his busi- 
ness, calling out in the barbarian tongue, " Sie 
kriegen keinen heller" which is as much as to 
say, " You shan't get a single brass farthing ; " 
adding, that they had lent the Greeks a king, 
and would lend them nothing more, and that if 
they did not like that answer they might lump 
it, besides other hard words, which the Greeks 


have not handed down ; and in this it is clear to 
me that the Germans were wiser than the other 
barbarians, who showed in this matter the truth 
of the old saw, " Fools and their money are soon 
parted," for the end of this story will prove that 
it is easier to get blood out of a stone than 
money out of a Greek. In this then the Ger- 
mans were wise, and the rest of the barbarians 
silly. So the Greeks began to be a nation and 
to run in debt, and Otho the Witless reigned 
over them in great glory till the time came when 
the debt was to be paid. But when the heralds 
of the Russians, and the French, and the Eng- 
lish asked for the money the Treasurer of King 
Otho played a most clever, but, as it seems to 
me, a most scurvy trick. He bade the heralds 
to his dwelling, and showed them the King's 
treasure-house, full of nothing ; and then, adding 
insult to injury, he took two plates and an 
obolus, and jingled the copper between the plates, 
bidding the heralds catch the sound and pay 
themselves with it. The heralds, stung to the 
quick, asked why King Otho had borrowed the 
money, if he did not mean to repay it. But the 
Treasurer, answering, asked them why they had 
made Otho a King, and the Greeks a nation, if 
they did not mean to support them, and whether 
so many great nations could find it in their 
hearts to let Greece, the smallest of their family, 


starve, and many other bitter things not worthy 
of note. So, the heralds having come on a fool's 
errand, went home like geese. Now, when the 
French heard that the Greeks would hot pay, 
they put up with their loss, which, after all, was 
not much, thinking it better not to throw good 
money after bad in trying to get back their loan 
from the Greeks, for they foresaw it would be 
like shearing a pig — " great cry and little wool." 
Besides, the French pride themselves on being a 
great nation, and are fond of being magnanimous 
when they can do it cheap. As for the Russians, 
who had only helped the Greeks from a wish to 
pull down the Turk, they had reckoned on losing 
this money for a time, meaning to take it out, 
with interest, when the time came for swallowing 
up Turkey, so they held their tongues and said 
nothing; but the English, who wanted their 
money, made a great outcry, and kept on asking 
and asking, while the Greeks kept on refusing, 
till at last years rolled on, and men laughed at 
the thing as a stale joke. Now, a few years since 
the Queen of England — for these barbarians 
are sometimes ruled by women — took for her 
Minister one Palnierston, of whom all declare 
that he is the greatest meddler in the world. 
Now, this Minister made up his mind to make 
the Greeks pay up, and so he launched a great 
fleet — for these barbarians are the best sailors 
VOL. 11. I 


known— and sent it to the Piraeus under the 
pretence that it was come to avenge certain 
injuries done to Englishmen, but, in fact, to 
satisfy his old grudge against King Otho's 
treasurer in the matter of the loan. 

This, then, is the Greek account of the quarrel, 
but the English story is quite different ; for they 
say that they did not send their fleet for the sake 
of the loan, as the Greeks affirm, but really on 
account of certain wrongs done to one Mr. 
Pacifico and others, as well as to ask back the 
two islands— Elaphonesus, or Stag Island, and 
Sapienza, or the Isle of Wisdom. Now, to me, 
considering the case of Mr. Pacifico, it seems 
that the Greeks speak the truth, while the Eng- 
lish are entirely wrong, for the wrongs done to 
this Mr. Pacifico, who was first a Jew, then a 
Portuguese, and last an Englishman, were com- 
mitted twenty-five years ago, before Greece 
existed ; so that if he were wronged at all, it is 
plain that it is the Turk, and not the Greeks, 
who should make amends : besides, who can 
believe that this man, being born a Jew, should 
become first a Portuguese, and then an English- 
man ? And, again, how can the English with 
justice lay any claim to Stag Island or the Isle 
of Wisdom, after holding their tongues about 
the matter for so many years ? But being in 
England at the time, and much puzzled with the 


story, I fell across certain priests of the Foreign 
Office, who told me many superstitious secrets 
under the seal of confession, as their saying is, 
which seal I willingly break for the good of my 
readers, praying the Divinity who watches over 
these things to pardon me if I do wrong. Now, 
these priests say that these demands were made 
in obedience to an oracle ; for they told me that 
Palmerston, taking to heart the answers of the 
Greeks to the heralds, sent round to all the most 
famous shrines to know what he should do, and 
amongst the rest to the Hermit of Vauxhall. 
But first, wishing to prove them, he bade the 
messenger to ask what the man that sent him 
was thinking of. Now, the other oracles answered, 
some one thing, and some another ; but the Her- 
mit of Vauxhall, taking up the tallow- candle 
which lit his cave, let fall some drops of grease 
on the table and said, "He that sent you is 
thinking of that." So Palmerston hearing that, 
sent divers gifts to the Hermit, feeling sure that 
he was divinely inspired, but to the rest he sent 
nothing at all. So the messenger who bore the 
gifts asked what Palmerston must do to make 
the Greeks pay up; and the Hermit, having 
smoked a pipe and drunk a quart of stout, sat 
down on his three-legged stool, and delivered 
the following verses : — 


" Lions roar, but cannot talk, 
Let your prating lions walk ; 
When that babbling tongue shall cease, 
Then you'll get your tin from Greece." 

And after he had raved out these lines he fell 
back senseless — some say from divine fury — 
some say from the bottle ; but I will say nothing 
about it, for I cannot tell. 

Now, when Palmerston heard this oracle, he 
saw at once what it meant, for it happened that 
his herald at Athens was one Lyons (a sea 
captain and a great talker and blurter out of 
secrets), and it was plain that he was the prating 
Lion mentioned by the Hermit ; so he made up 
his mind to call Lyons back, but first he sent to 
ask the oracle whom he should send to Athens in 
his stead. But when the messenger came to the 
Hermit he found him in a strange state, singing, 
and swearing, and laughing, and dancing, and 
hiccoughing, being so filled with the spirit of 
Gin, in whose temple he was a daily worshipper, 
that he could scarce stand upright. And when 
the messenger, in fear and trembling, as was 
right in the presence of so powerful a Divinity, 
asked whom Palmerston should send in Lyons' 
room, the Hermit, still dancing and hiccoughing, 
roared out, 

" A wise man, or a man that is wise ; 
Ask me no questions I'll tell you no lies." 



So the messenger returned and told Palmerston, 
who was in no small strait when he heard these 
verses, nay! was wroth with the Hermit, and 
thanked him for nothing, for it needed no oracle 
to tell him that a herald should be a wise man. 
But not daring to disobey the oracle, and besides 
having faith in the Hermit, he cast his eyes 
about, and at last found out one Wyse, of whom 
men said that he was a great clerk, and an 
amiable, thoughtful man. Him, then catching 
at the name, he made his herald and packed off 
to Athens. But he soon found that things went 
worse instead of better ; for the Greeks, so far 
from repaying the loan, would not even pay the 
interest when it came due. Whereupon, being 
vexed with the Hermit, he sent another messen- 
ger to revile him, calling him filthy names, as 
the manner of these barbarians is when they are 
angry ; at all which the Hermit only laughed, 
saying that he had never thought much of Pal- 
merston, who was too heavy a swell, but now it 
was quite plain that he ought never to have been 
Minister, seeing, when told to pick out a wise 
man, he had chosen one that was stupid, and 
then lost his temper about it. And, besides 
this, the Hermit said that he would give him one 
more oracle free gratis for nothing, as the saying 
is, begging the messenger to ask Palmerston to 
put it in his pipe and smoke it, and uttering 


many other sharp things which the messenger 
could not carry away with him. Now the oracle 
which the Hermit gave for nothing was very long 
and dark, but in plain English it came to this, 
that if Palmerston wished to make sure of his 
money he must take as his ally " a peaceful man, 
who was neither Jew, nor Portuguese, nor 
English, but all three, and who was living in a 
country which did not exist when he was born ; " 
and at the end of the verses he said, that theWhigs, 
of whom Palmerston is now one, would never 
prosper till they had drunk of the water of the 
well of wisdom that lies in the island of Sapienza 
or Wisdom, nor England thrive till she had got 
Elaphonesus, or Stag Island, as a place of exile 
for her stags. Now to treat of the last part of 
this oracle first, it is clear to me that the Hermit 
was quite right, for sure I am that in all my 
wanderings I never set my eyes on a more silly 
tribe than these Whigs, which are a set of busy- 
bodies having a finger in every man's pie, and 
bringing sore troubles on England. So that if 
there be any water of wisdom it would be cheap 
at any price if it were only to cure the Whigs of 
their silliness ; and for the matter of Stag Island, 
I must tell you how England at that time was 
overrun with a great herd of stags, at the head 
of whom was one monstrous beast with a face 
of brass. A stag of more than fifty branches — 


verily a Hart of Grease — wondrous fat and bold. 
And for his impudence, and the harm that this 
monster did in running through men's land, and 
leading all the others astray after him, men were 
sore afraid of him, and wished to be rid of him, 
so that the Hermit was right in saying that 
England would never thrive till she got Elapho- 
nesus or Stag Island as a place to which she 
might banish her stags. 

But to return to Palmerston and the Hermit : 
you may fancy that the Minister was not a little 
cast down at the oracle, so that he was at his 
wit's end in guessing what it could mean, but 
the more he thought the less he could make of it. 
Now, the barbarian French have a saying, that 
Heaven helps those that help themselves ; but it 
is also plain, that Heaven helps those who can- 
not help themselves, as it turned out in this case, 
for just as Palmerston was in despair, he got a 
letter from Mr. Pacifico, of whom I have spoken 
before, saying how, though born a Jew, he had 
changed himself into a Portuguese, and then 
into an Englishman, to serve his turn ; and how 
he had been wronged five-and-twenty years ago, 
and how he hoped, as Palmerston had an old 
grudge against Greece, he would take up his 
cause and see him righted. So when Palmerston 
read the letter he jumped for joy and cut three 
capers, for he could see with half an eye that 


this Pacifico, which means peaceful, was the 
peaceful man of whom the oracle said that he 
was neither Jew, nor Portuguese, nor English, 
but all three, and that he was living in a country 
which did not exist when he was born, for Greece 
was not a country till many years after. So he 
sent precious gifts to the Hermit — a hogshead of 
tobacco, a cask of brandy, a puncheon of rum, 
and a whole vat of gin ; and then he sat down 
and drew up his demands against King Otho, 
setting Pacifico first and foremost, and putting in 
the demands for Sapienza and Elaphonesus, for 
the sake of killing two birds with the same 

This, then, is what the priests told me, and to 
any one who looks clearly at the matter it will be 
plain that their account makes the Greek story 
square with the English, for it is hard to believe 
that even the Whigs could have been such block- 
heads as to send a fleet to the Piraeus for such 
silly causes unless money — of which the Whigs 
are very fond — had been at the bottom of the 
business. Thus, then, I have set down the causes 
of this quarrel, and any one who does not believe 
what I have said is welcome to his own way of 
thinking ; but this is the best account I could 
hear of the affair, so I shall say no more about it. 


I8 5 I. 

Before I came into England I had heard much 
of Free Trade and Protection, but, as often 
happens, the more I heard the less I knew, for 
those who spoke to me about it knew nothing of 
the matter themselves, as will always be the 
case with men who take things on hearsay which 
they have not seen with their own eyes. But, 
being in England, and inquiring into that Greek 
quarrel of which I spoke some time since, I 
began before long to understand the ways of 
Englishmen, and especially this question of Free 
Trade, which hath made more noise than any 
before or since. I found, then, that this island 
of England had been, time out of mind, in the 
hands of landlords, so that to have land was 
everything, and to be in trade little or nothing, 
and all honours, and titles, and places went with 
the land, and nothing with trade, which was 


counted altogether mean and base. Now, so 
long as English trade was poor and trifling, just 
so long was this rule of the landlords fair enough, 
for they were, so to speak, the only power in the 
land under the King ; and who should rule a 
land except it be those who have the power? 
Besides, these Lords grew corn and to spare for 
the poor, who were well off, and Englishmen 
lived happily, for there was food enough and 
room enough in the land. But about a hundred 
years since, Trade, which before lay grovelling 
in the dust, gave a great start, and began to 
raise her head, and many shrewd men of the 
artisans laid their heads together and thought 
out clever devices in the various crafts to help 
on Trade, which kept on growing and growing. 
At last one man came who found out Steam, 
and, as one of my countrymen said of yore, this 
man seemed, compared with all the rest, as a 
sober man among drunkards ; so mighty a leap 
did Trade make upon the spur of Steam. As I 
asked about the beginnings of this mighty 
power of Steam, I heard a strange story, which 
seems worth telling. They say, then, that the 
daughter of one of these great landlords, walk- 
ing in her father's park, and thinking, it may be, 
how brave a thing it was to have so fair a 
heritage, came upon a cottage in which dwelled 
one of the artisans that worked in a town hard 


by, and before the door was a little boy playing 
with the model of a steam-engine which his 
father had thought out. The girl, wondering at 
the plaything, took the child up in her arms and 
carried it, toy and all — for the way was not long 
— to her father. " See, father, see, what a pretty 
child, and what a pretty toy ! What shall I do 
with him and it?" Then the father looking at 
the steam-engine, and heaving a sigh, bade the 
girl to take back the child and his plaything 
without hurting a hair of his head, and to leave 
them just as she had found them, adding, " the 
day will come when we and ours shall be cast 
out, but that child and his steam-engine shall 
rule the land." Now, if this tale be true, it is 
clear to me that this old Lord was wiser than his 
peers, for while Trade was a-growing the most 
part of them stood by and laughed at her, and 
though some few of them patted her on the back, 
saying, " "Well done, Trade ! " their heads were 
too full of their old quarrel with their natural 
enemy, the barbarian French, to think much 
about her, and as for her ever being their equal, 
such a thing never once crossed their minds. 

But as Trade grew, the men who lived by 
Trade grew too, and towns sprang up where 
before were only villages, and at last, with so 
many mouths to feed, bread began to run short, 
and England which used to send some of her 


corn away to other countries, had need to go 
and buy corn of them. But the landlords, instead 
of letting this corn come in free, as they ought 
to have done, thought it a good time to put 
money in their pockets ; so they put so heavy a 
tax on it that it was hardly worth while to 
bring it in — besides which the war that was 
going on against the French helped to keep it 
out — and broke up their waste lands, and sowed 
them with corn, which they sold to the people at 
a great price. Thus things went on, the people 
and tradesmen buying their corn at a high price, 
and selling their goods high too, for the war 
kept up the price of all things, till at last, the 
French were fairly beaten, and the war came to 
an end. Now, when the war was over, English- 
men began to take breath, and to look about 
them, and the landlords could scarce believe 
their eyes, for they saw that Trade, which they 
had not long since thought so little of, had 
grown wonderfully, and was strong enough to 
be a power in the State, and they were forced to 
own that there were two powers in England, 
Trade and themselves. Howbeit they managed 
to keep up the price of their corn some time 
longer, until Trade opened her eyes, and began 
to clamour for cheap bread, which the people 
will always do when corn is dear. 

So the tradesmen and artisans went on calling 


out for cheap bread for several years, till at last 
there was not a statesman in England who 
had not tried his hand at settling the question 
between the Landlords and the Tradesmen. But 
of all who tried I find the greatest to be one 
Peel, who in some sort belonged to both classes, 
for his father had been a Tradesman, but who was 
himself a Landlord, for part of the money which 
his father had left him he laid out in land, and 
part he laid by in the bank for a rainy day. 
And here I must tell you one strange thing 
which I have found out about Englishmen. You 
must know that the hearts of Englishmen lieth 
not in their bosoms like the hearts of other men, 
but in their pockets tied up with their purses ; 
so that in England to speak of heartstrings and 
pursestrings is to speak of one and the same 
thing ; and all agree that this Peel was the only 
man whom the merchants of England would 
suffer to come nigh their pockets, and this they 
have often shown, for when the Whigs have 
tried to get money out of their purses they have 
kicked them out of doors, but Peel might put 
his hand into their pockets and take out as 
much as he pleased. So then this man tried to 
patch up the quarrel between the landlords and 
tradesmen; but he might as well have tried to 
make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, so long as 
the laws against the bringing in of foreign corn 


were in force. But though he saw that these 
laws must go, he knew very well that their hour 
was not yet come, so he bided his time and went 
with the stream for a while, trying his hand at 
other things, doing some ill and some things 
well; and, amongst other matters, he broke 
down the wall of separation between the Pro- 
testants and Papists in Ireland, an act for which 
so much mud was thrown at him by some of his 
old friends that he was fain to give up London 
and take himself off to his great house near 

Now, when Peel went down to Drayton— for 
that was the name of his manor near Tamworth 
— his place was filled by a lord named Grey, who 
was a Whig and a friend of the people, and the 
only gentleman, they say, in England, who 
laughed when the French king's head was cut 
off. And with Grey came his boy of all work, 
Finality Jack, whose hobby-horse was Reform 
and whose dunghill was " Constitutional liberty." 
So the two fell to work, Grey sharing out the 
loaves and fishes which the Kings and Queens 
of England keep locked up in their Royal cup- 
board, and Finality Jack riding his hobby 
" Reform " up and down the land. At this time, 
too, the house in which the " Faithful Commons " 
were wont to meet was filled with Tories and 
rats and all manner of unclean things, and the 


twin Giants Bribery and Corruption had made it 
their lair. So full, indeed, was the old House of 
these abominations that the voice of the People 
could scarce make itself heard. So Grey and 
John, and the rest of the friends of the People, 
set about clearing the House, and, by the help of 
a pack of pure Whigs, they hunted out the 
Tories and rats, and by clubs and other con- 
trivances slew the Giants Bribery and Corrup- 
tion and carried out Reform. After they had 
done that they began to meddle with everything. 
To show their love for their species they set the 
slaves free, and robbed the West Indians to do 
so ; but in the end they made the lot of the 
negroes worse than it was before. And by help 
of Daniel the Big Beggarman, who then had all 
Ireland under his thumb, they vexed the Church 
both in England and Ireland, and pulled down 
the Municipal Corporations, so that at last there 
was scarce anything old and sacred in the country 
that they had not tried their hands at. But all 
this time Peel sat and bided his time. Before 
long, however, people began to grow weary of 
the Whigs, who were spending money right and 
left, so the old King, who hated the Whigs from 
his heart, turned them to the rightabout, and 
sent for Peel one fine morning and bade him try 
and patch matters up. Then Peel tried what he 
could do, but the Whigs by the aid of Ireland, 


which they had given over bound to the Beggar- 
man and the priests, were too much for him, so 
he gave up the task ; and the Whigs, who had 
got rid of Grey and put one Lamb into his place, 
had it all their own way for a while. A year or 
two after the old King died and the kingdom 
came to the Queen. Now, if I were to say the 
Whigs were sorry for his death I should tell lies, 
for they were more glad than one can think, and 
stood on their heads for joy, thinking they would 
twist their young mistress altogether after their 
own fashion. And at first everything went as 
they wished, for the Queen made a pet of Lamb 
and put a blue ribbon round his neck and had him 
often to dine, though his enemies gave out that 
he was no lamb at all, but a wicked old ram 
gifted with great powers of speech. About the 
same time, too, there were hard times and bad 
harvests, and the people called out angrily for 
food, and said the Whigs had gulled them with 
" Reform " and " Constitutional liberty," which 
were fine words indeed, but buttered no parsnips, 
and they would be glad to know " whose belly 
the Reform Bill had ever filled." All the time, 
too, the Whigs kept on spending money like 
water, and because they could not get rid of it 
fast enough on their brothers and cousins at 
home they got up half-a-dozen little wars, and 
sent ships and soldiers against the Emperor of 


China and the King of Cabool, and the end was 
that at last there was no money in the public till. 
Then every one began to quarrel with them and 
to pick holes in their coats, and those who had 
toadied them before now cut them when they 
met them in the streets, and called Finality Jack 
and his friends " a miserable faction/' though 
before they had been " a great party/' So they 
went on floundering a year or two more, during 
which time Peel and his followers grew stronger 
and stronger, until they had got more friends 
among the Commons than the Whigs, who at 
last had scarce a friend left, insomuch that the 
Lamb to save his place took refuge under the 
petticoats of the Bedchamber Women whom he 
had set about the Queen, and so the Whigs 
stayed in a little longer. But the evil day came 
at last, when Peel watching his moment set upon 
Finality Jack, and gave him such a thrashing 
that he ran off to the Queen and gave her warn- 
ing, for said he, " I'm not going to stay here to 
be bullied by that fellow Peel." Now, perhaps 
you may have heard, as I have, from some of the 
Bedchamber Women, that the Queen was grieved 
to part with the Whigs, and that the tears fell 
from her royal eyes when the pet Lamb came to 
take leave. But the truth is, that she did nothing 
of the kind ; and I believe she was as glad as any 
one of her people to get rid of the Whigs. 



So Peel was in power again, and fell a-thinking 
how he could best govern the country. Before 
him was a lean and hungry people bawling out 
for bread ; and added to it, the lean and hungry 
Whigs greedy for place; but behind him were 
the landlords who had helped him to power, and 
a worse than empty till, for the Whigs had spent 
all the money in it and run the country in debt 
into the bargain ; and, to speak the truth, I do 
not know which was worst, the hungry and 
greedy foes before him, or the empty till and 
more empty-headed friends behind him. But he 
set to work like a man ; first of all, he said the 
people must pay off its debt, and that all who 
had above a certain sum a year must bear the 
burden for a short time; and he put it to the 
merchants, and tradesmen, and monied men of 
all ranks, if such a plan were not the best, and 
they all answered " Yes ; " so he carried his plan 
to the faithful Commons, and they agreed to it, 
and it was called the Income Tax ; but the Whigs 
could sooner have flown than have persuaded the 
merchants to let such a measure pass. So Peel 
got over his first trouble, and by this time the 
harvests were better, and bread was cheaper, and 
the cry for cheap food had gone down a little, so 
that he had breathing time to look about him. 

As I have told you before, he had long ago 
made up his mind that the Corn Laws must go 


if England were to exist at all, and though his 
friends the landlords wished still to keep them 
he thought the time was come to get rid of them 
by degrees. So he began to accustom the mind 
of his party to Free Trade by letting mastic and 
divi divi and dragon's blood come in free, but 
even then some of his party grudged the poor 
their untaxed dragon's blood, saying it was a 
dangerous "precedent," and they began to call 
him a traitor to his party, though he had given 
no pledges before he came in. But Peel for all that 
went on letting first one thing and then another 
come in free, and I daresay thought it better to 
be called a traitor to his party than to betray his 
country ; and here again the truth of the saying 
was shown, that Heaven helps them that help 
themselves, for while Peel was easing down the 
public mind to Free Trade another run of bad 
harvests came in the very nick of time, and Poor 
Richard, or "Tumbledown Dick," as he was 
afterwards called when he began to meddle with 
everything, and to break down in everything, 
and a set of Manchester men, got up the League, 
and went about the country lecturing and speak- 
ing against the Corn Laws. And, I say, Heaven 
helped Peel in this ; for, as men say, in some 
mysterious way, but, as I say, by the grace and 
good pleasure of God, the potato crop failed, cut 
off as it were in one day, and gave Peel the 


handle for which he had been waiting ; so he 
went to the palace and presented his humble 
duty to the Queen, and said, " Your people are 
starving and the worst is still behind. We must 
have all the corn we can get lest the people 
should die, and I have persuaded the Old Duke, 
who is over the troops, and Aberdeen, the Athe- 
nian, and I have the people behind me, and as 
for the rest of your Majesty's servants, I care 
not whether they follow me or no, whether they 
call me a traitor or no, for the people must have 
food, and I am the man to feed them/' So the 
Queen, like a good and gracious lady as she is, 
bade him go on and prosper, and never mind 
what men said, but feed the people, and remem- 
ber that he had a firm friend at court. Then Peel 
went home, and issued a decree in the Queen's 
name opening the ports at once, and letting 
foreign corn in free. And you should have seen 
men's faces when they read that corn was to 
come in free, and that a bill was to be laid be- 
fore the faithful Commons by virtue of which 
corn was to come in free for ever. First of all 
there were Peel's friends, the landlords, who 
swore terrible rustic oaths, and said it could 
never be true, and some of his own fellow ser- 
vants swore as loud oaths as any, but for all 
that it was true. Next there were the Whigs, 
who swore too, not so loudly, but more spitefully, 


that Peel had stolen their measures. " Stolen 
their measures!" Why, a giant might as well 
steal a dwarf's Sunday suit. And, not to mince 
the matter, I may say at once, that the only dif- 
ference between Peel and Finality Jack was, that 
the one could do what the other couldn't ; for 
Peel could lift with his little finger what Jack 
could not lift with his whole body, if he strained 
ever so. Last of all came " Tumbledown Dick/* 
and said that Peel had taken the bread out of 
his mouth ; but people only laughed at that, and 
told him if Peel had taken the bread out of his 
mouth he had put it into the mouths of the whole 
people, and bade Richard stick to his last, for 
though he might be a great agitator he was not 
yet a great man, and a great many other home 
truths, so that Richard was forced to hold his 
tongue and go abroad, and his friends entered 
into a subscription for him. 

Thus then the people had their bread free, for 
you must know that the faithful Commons passed 
the bill, and lucky it was they did, for the famine 
grew so sore that the struggle now was not to 
keep corn out, but how to get it in ; so that even 
the landlords turned tail and gave in when wheat 
rose to five pounds a quarter, and they were 
merry and happy when every other class were 
starving, and I daresay they thought corn would 
never go down. But they still called Peel a 


traitor, and the Whigs called him a thief, and at 
last, being above all party, all parties rose 
against him, and out-voted him one fine summer 
day. So he went to the Queen and said that now 
he had fed the people he did not care to be her 
servant any longer, and that Finality Jack might 
have the place if he chose. The Queen was 
loath to part with him, but he would not stay, 
so her Majesty begged him to give Jack a few 
words of advice before he went. And he called 
John and said, " Now, Jack, I'm going out, and 
3 r ou*re coming in. When you went out you left 
me two little wars. What has become of them ? 
They are both ended with honour, and I have 
made our enemies pay the costs. That till too 
was empty when you went out ; look at it : it is 
crammed full, and there are millions besides in 
the Bank. This comes of the income-tax, which 
you may keep on a year or two if you like till 
the country gets over the famine, but no longer. 
Besides this, I have taken off more taxes in these 
four years than you put on in ten, and when you 
think how many taxes you Whigs can put on in 
ten years, that is no small praise ; and though I 
have taken them off there is a surplus, but though 
you laid them on there was a deficit. Now, 
therefore, take warning and behave well, and I 
will be. your friend, and when you are in a strait 
come to me, and I'll try to help you out : and 


above all things, don't lose your temper, but try- 
to be a great instead of a little Minister." And 
having said that he walked out, and Finality 
Jack walked in. 

So John and the Whigs came in under the 
wing of Peel, and followed in his* steps as well as 
they could ; but they had to make such long 
strides that more than once their backs were 
well-nigh broken. First of all came the Irish 
famine, and then they got into a sad scrape, but 
Peel helped them out ; and just as the famine was 
mending, came the great crash at home, which 
upset half the merchants and railway-mongers in 
England, and close at its heels the great crash 
abroad, which upset half the thrones in Europe, 
and people in England thanked their stars that 
the Whigs were not out of office, for if they had 
been out ten to one they would have taken up 
with the Chartists and got up a revolution. But 
as they were in they stood by the Throne, and all 
good men and true rallied round them. And 
then they began to think themselves quite 
popular, and grew lazy, and did scarce anything 
for two years, till a sad thing happened, which 
showed them how weak they were. 

Well, we all remember what this sad thing was, 
and I think just now no one in England is likely 
to forget it. One Sunday morning, not a year 
ago, when the London folk were going to church, 


they heard men say as they passed one another 
in the streets, " Peel has fallen from his horse, 
and is hard at Death's door/' So he lay and 
groaned three days, and on the fourth day he died. 
Then there was weeping and wailing all over 
England, and it was as if three winters had come 
together; so great was men's grief, for every 
house seemed to have lost a friend. And as ill- 
luck would have it, the people could not even 
mourn in peace, for a Royal Duke died the very 
next day, and the toadies and flatterers, of which 
the town is full, when they saw any one weeping 
for Peel, or with a black coat on, cried out, " Ah, 
poor fellow, see how he mourns for the good 
Duke," when, in truth, not one in ten thousand 
mourned for the Duke, who was a good and 
virtuous man enough, but whose death was, after 
all, only a court sorrow, not a public loss. And 
you must know that the Whigs were either so 
frightened or so glad at Peel's death that they all 
ran out of town, and there was not one of them 
the next morning to say a good word for him in 
the House of Commons. But the day after that 
they came and did what they should have done 
the day before, and Finality Jack, in his languid 
way, spoke as kindly as he could of any one, and 
many who had never a good word for Peel when 
he was alive now could not find words to express 
the loss the country had met with, and so on, and 


so on, the old story over again — first stoning the 
prophets and then building their sepulchres. 
And after they had done praising Peel, the 
Whigs huddled up their traps, and shut up the 
Commons' House, and ran off to make holiday in 
the country. 

But Peel had not been dead long before they 
felt his loss, for the party of the landlord, or, as 
they called themselves, "the country party," who 
had been always snarling at the Whigs and 
calling Peel a traitor, but whom he had kept 
down when he was alive, began to show their 
teeth ; and their mouthpiece in the Commons 
was one Stunning Ben, or Dizzy, so nicknamed 
from the dizziness which came over every one 
when he began to speak of his scheme of Protec- 
tion. This man, it was said, Peel might have 
had if he would have given him a slice off one of 
the State loaves, or the tail of an official red 
herring, but he would not have him at any price, 
so Dizzy went and joined the landlords, though 
he was not a landlord born. And of all the men 
who now are, he is the greatest master of clap- 
trap, so that in the mouths of all who came 
before him it seemed a trade, while in his it has 
risen to a science. And when the Corn Laws 
fell and Free Trade came in, the landlords held 
their peace and pocketed the money when corn 
was at a famine price ; but when the price fell 


and fell they began to cry out that free trade was 
only an experiment, and that if corn fell any 
more they should be ruined, and they were silly 
in their generation, for they wished to be the only 
class in the country to sell their corn at the old 
price when everything else could be had for half 
the price it fetched before. And so it turned out 
that the worst thing happened to them which 
could happen to any men — that they sunk into a 
class wishing to profit by the sufferings of the 
whole community. And instead of teaching 
their tenants, who, like all protected interests, 
have ended in being the most ignorant and 
stupid race of men, how to turn their land to 
good account, they sent Dizzy round the country 
spouting and speaking, and telling them that if 
they would only make an effort they should have 
back Protection. So Dizzy for two or three 
years past set off every autumn to throw dust in 
the eyes of the farmers, and he took with him 
the Terrier of Downing Street, who was as deaf 
as a post, whom Palmerston lent him, for he had 
bought him dirt cheap from the late Mr. Jenkins, 
when he gave up fashionable life and retired to 
Russia, and the household dog of Knowsley 
that belonged to the old woman who lived in a 
shoe, and with these at his heels he starred it 
through the agricultural districts. And I think 
if the farmers had spent all the time they wasted 


in riding to Protectionist meetings and dinners 
in improving their farms, they would be in a 
better state to meet their difficulties, but as it is 
they have lost four years in waiting for protec- 
tion, though it will never come back. 

Thus, then, the Protectionists grew bolder 
when Peel died ; but this was not all, for the 
Pope, as soon as he heard that Peel was dead, 
plucked up courage and issued a bull, parcelling 
out all England, and assuming a Royal dominion 
over the land. And Finality Jack was brave at 
first, and with his fingers itching to be at His 
Holiness, down he sat and dashed off a letter, 
hurling back defiance ; and the people of Eng- 
land, who hate the Pope as they do the Evil 
One, clapped their hands and said, " Well done, 
Johnny," and waited to see what he would do. 
But this brave beginning had a very weak 
ending, for of all things to handle this Papal 
aggression is hardest ; there is a lie at the bottom 
of it, for it comes to you pretending to be purely 
religious and a matter of conscience, though all 
the while it is really political and aims at a 
Sovereign supremacy. The way to deal with it 
is to grasp it boldly like a nettle. If you begin 
to play with it, you will sting your fingers. Men 
say that at a distance a dead dog smells like 
musk, and so it is with the Pope ; here in Eng- 
land he seems enveloped in an odour of sanctity, 


but visit Rome and you shall find him mere 
carrion propped up by foreign bayonets. 

So things went on till the other day, when the 
Whigs came back from their holiday to meet 
the faithful Commons. To look at them they 
seemed as strong as ever, but they soon showed 
their weakness. First of all there was Johnny's 
speech against Papal aggression, which like 
March came in a lion, and went out a lamb. 
Then Dizzy got up and told such a pitiful tale oi: 
the farmers' distress, showing how they only 
wanted to grow tobacco and sugar, and perhaps 
tea and indigo, that the faithful Commons nearly 
outvoted the Whigs, for Peel was not there to 
help them. And next, Finality Jack forgot Peel's 
advice about the income-tax, and the man who 
was over the till got into such a mess with his 
figures that the whole country got disgusted. 
Last of all, Finality Jack was beaten on his own 
dunghill " Constitutional Reform," and he took 
this so much to heart that he forgot Peel's advice 
again and lost his temper, and ran off to the 
Queen and resigned, for he could not bear that 
any one should be the people's friend but him- 
self. Then the Queen, who had listened to all 
the fine words of the Protectionists, sent for 
Hotspur, their leader, and said — " Go to, now, 
we have heard all that you have said and that 
Stunning Ben has said. Behold, the whole 


country is given over to you to make a Ministry." 
So Hotspur went away and communed with this 
friend and that friend, but they were all like 
those who were bidden to a certain supper. One 
had married a wife, another had bought oxen, 
and the end was that none would join him, for 
they all saw it was easier to talk of governing 
than to govern. Then the Queen sent for Johnny 
and bade him try and make it up with Peel's 
friends, but they wouldn't join him ; and the 
Queen sent for the Iron Duke to take his advice ; 
and what he said no one can tell, but this I 
know — that if something be not done soon, the 
people out of Parliament will begin to think of 
making a Ministry for themselves, so the rival 
parties had better make up their differences and 
form a strong Government. Thus, then, this 
long story is over, and the moral of it is that 
Protection is dead and buried, though in dying 
it has nearly carried the Whigs to the grave 
along with it, and I think that some of those 
who used to laugh at Peel for his three courses 
would be glad if he were alive now, for they 
have no course at all, but out of his three one, I 
daresay, would have been right. 


April, 1871. 

To the Editor of the New Gazette. 

"They must all be done," said my wife, and 
when my wife says that, there is no gainsaying 
her, the only question was what the doing of 
which she spoke so resolutely was to be. Some 
of you may think she was thinking of cooking, 
and was about to issue an ukase as to roasting 
or boiling. If so, you are greatly mistaken. It 
was a much more serious question ; nothing 
more nor less than that she had set her heart on 
being vaccinated with her whole house. And 
here let me remark how silly most men are on 
the matter of the small-pox. To listen to them 
one would think it mattered nothing at all whether 
the human face divine were seared, and scarred, 
and seamed like a lava stream, or a furrowed field, 
or pitted like a Wimbledon target. The reason of 
their indifference I find in the fact that looks are 


little to men, but a great deal to ladies. Nay, I 
have known some men whose personal appear- 
ance was much improved by the small-pox, but 
never, on my honour, one lady. How true it is, 
alas, of women what the poet says, in prophetic 
verse, " My face is my fortune," and how lucky 
it is for the mass of men that they have not to 
depend on their features for furtherance in life. 
How heavy they would be in hand, how hard to 
get rid of. In short, what a drug they would be 
in the matrimonial market. I could dilate a good 
deal on this delicate subject of personal appear- 
ance, but I hope I have said quite enough to 
show that the small-pox is especially a ladies' 
question. A man takes it, and as he tosses in 
the first fever, says to himself " It will be a mild 
attack ; I shan't die of it." Dying is all the 
cowardly wretch thinks of, but put a lady, young 
or old, in the same position ; she thinks nothing 
of dying, but much as to whether she shall look 
a fright for the rest of her life, and when the 
doctor speaks to her of speedy recovery her head 
is full of regaining her looks. She cares little 
for restoration to health if she is to be made 
ugly for ever by the fell disease. 

You see then that when my wife was so posi- 
tive she was quite right. If any husband reads 
these lines, let him always say the same of his 
wife, and he may be sure that she at least will 


not think him wrong. On this occasion, too, my 
wife spoke with authority, as uttering the senti- 
ment of all right-thinking women. She was 
resolved, as all true mothers should be, that no 
woman should lose her looks if she could help it. 
She and all the women would be vaccinated, and 
though she cared little for the men or their per- 
sonal appearance, still, as one unvaccinated man 
might bring the enemy into the house, she was 
determined that her husband, her sons and her 
men-servants should be vaccinated, whether they 
would or no, and that was why she uttered the 
sentence with which this letter begins "They 
must all be done." 

Here let me say it would be well for the world 
of women if all husbands were as I am. When 
I get up in the morning and look at myself in 
the glass, I say " Behold a perfect husband." As 
I am the only beholder, and there is no one to 
contradict me, of course I have it all my own 
way, and go down to breakfast strong in the 
confidence of my perfection. I am always thank- 
ing heaven that I am not as other husbands — 
smokers, Cosmopolitans, members of Pratt's, play- 
goers, revellers, and such like. Even my amuse- 
ments I take sadly, in a thoroughly old English 
way, and I might even go so far as to say that 
the even tenor of my life is as dull as ditch- 
water or a London Sunday. Do I repine at this ? 


Not at all ; for my will and my pleasure is to do 
what my wife wishes. You may fancy, then, 
that a husband so perfect would not quarrel with 
his wife for such a trifle as vaccination. My 
answer, therefore, was, "Certainly, my dear, if 
you wish it." I own, as I said this, I had some 
doubt as to getting all the men to consent to 
vaccination, and I suppose this gave a dash of 
hesitation to my words, and a kind of half- 
heartedness of manner which my wife instantly 
detected. " Of course I wish it, and it shall be 
done." It is a curious thing that ladies never 
swear, and yet how very near an oath their words 
sometimes are. On this occasion, when my wife 
said " it shall be done," the meaning conveyed 
to my mind, who knew her so well, was as if I 
had heard the whole crew of an iron-clad giving 
vent to their feelings in unmistakeable expletives, 
when the captain has refused them leave on 
shore. After this "It shall be done," nothing 
was left for it but to write to Squills, the family 
surgeon, and beg him to come and vaccinate us 
all as soon as he could. Like a faithful attendant 
that worthy man made an appointment. Before 
the day came my wife harangued the maids, and 
I delivered a domestic oration to the men, in 
which the necessity of vaccination was duly im- 
pressed on the minds of the whole male house- 
hold. What my wife said no man can tell. She 
VOL. 11. L 


was not very long about it, and then she retired 
to her boudoir with a face slightly flushed. 
When I told her of my difficulties with the men 
she merely muttered "Yes, and think of the 
obstinacy of Mrs. Jellybag." That was all she 
uttered. It was clear that she had met with dif- 
ficulties, but she had overcome them. She had 
her way. She imposed silence and called it 
peace. All the women were to be vaccinated. 
As for the men, our butler is nearly sixty though 
he only confesses to forty-five, for as I know, and 
as you know, ladies, who read these lines, men 
in all classes of life are just as touchy about their 
age as women, and even more so. Now when 
the butler came before me and I said " Struggles, 
you must be vaccinated; it is your mistress's 
wish," he began at once to make excuse, and 
said, " Please, sir, I am too old ; I'm beyond the 
age." It put even my perfect temper out to hear 
him talk of being beyond the age, as if he were 
a member of parliament excusing himself from 
being on committee because he was over sixty, 
or a militiaman claiming exemption from service 
on the same ground. " Nonsense," I said. " Too 
old ; why, you are only forty-five. A mere boy. 
Let me hear no more about it. Besides, it is 
your mistress's wish. I am going to be vac- 
cinated, and so must you." "Well, sir," he 
replied, " Mrs. Jellybag have been mentioning 


the matter to me, which it is her opinion, that 
we upper servants didn't ought to demean our- 
selves afore the under servants, and if we are 
done, which it is unnecessary, we ought to be 
done up-stairs in the library, and the under ser- 
vants down-stairs in the " 'ousekeeper's room." 
Here was an insidious attack, and I had no 
doubt that Struggles, who is a decent sort of 
man, had been set on by that odious Mrs. Jelly- 
bag to throw this apple of discord into our 
assembly for vaccination. In this state of affairs 
any hesitation would have been fatal. "No, 
Struggles/' I replied, "that cannot be allowed. 
Besides, Mr. Squills might object to go down to 
the housekeeper's room. His feelings must be 
respected. He is after all just as much a man 
as you are. I have made up my mind that the 
men shall be vaccinated in the library under my 
eyes, and the maids in the dining-room under 
those of your mistress. If your mistress agrees to 
that arrangement I shall expect you all to be 
ready at twelve to-morrow morning." 

The worthy Struggles then departed, muttering 
that he knew of butlers as would have given 
warning sooner than be waxinated ; but nothing 
came of this incipient threat to quarrel with his 
bread and butter, and so the fatal morning 
came without further dispute. At twelve o'clock, 
Squills drove up in a circular-fronted brougham, 


which looks so like a pill-box, and jumped out 
in that eager apothecary way, rubbing his hands 
as if about to partake of the banquet prepared 
by death. " Good morning, good morning ; I 
hope you are all ready. How the disease does 
spread ; five hundred and sixty deaths from it 
alone in Paris last week, and two hundred and 
thirty in this metropolis alone. Besides, it has 
not nearly reached its maximum. Vaccinated 
three hundred people already this morning. But 
bless me, where' s my lymph V* The worthy 
Squills uttered all this off the reel like a sea trout 
going off to sea with fifty yards of your best 
tackle ; but " Where's my lymph ?•" brought him 
up and turned him like the butt-end of a rod. 
Would you believe it, this degenerate son of 
^Esculapius had left the lymph at home. " How 
provoking," said my wife, "and all the maids 
catching cold in their arms with their sleeves 
turned up," as if men were not much less used to 
turn their sleeves up than women, who to our weak 
minds seem always running about and catching 
their deaths with bare arms. There was no help 
for it though; Squills had to drive back two 
miles to fetch the lymph. But here fortune 
favoured us. He had not driven far before he 
saw another doctor returning from the Home 
Office with a store of the desired lymph. On 
him he pounced, and begged or borrowed, or 


perhaps stole, enough to " do our family." We 
had not to wait so long, therefore ; and then the 
awful operation began. What went on in the 
dining-room we only knew in morsels. A day 
or two afterwards one of my best friends met me 
and said, " A fine show you had in your dining- 
room the other day, at least ten fine women of all 
ages all gathered together, very fresh and fat 
most of them seemed." The fact was that old 
Squills is getting old and near-sighted, so that 
he had each of his patients brought close to the 
window; and, drawing up the blind, performed 
the operation, much to his own satisfaction, as 
well as to the delight of all the little boys and 
girls who were passing by. I am sorry to say I 
was not equal to the occasion, when my friend 
chaffed me about it. Had I possessed my wife's 
presence of mind, he would have met his match. 
She, when one of her friends asked what in the 
world we were all about, for she, too, had passed 
our house at the same time. "What were we 
about }" answered my wife with the dignity of 
the mother of the Gracchi and the chaste Lucretia 
combined, " what were we about ? We are 
setting an example to the neighbourhood, and 
showing all Belgravia how a British matron and 
her maids can be vaccinated in public." 

To tell the truth, I am afraid the maids under- 
went the operation better than the men. I went 


first, and I hope only made a wry face or two 
when old Squills pricked me with his lancet. As 
a watch is jewelled in six holes, to make it go 
better, so I was vaccinated six times — three on 
each arm. " Won't it do if it is only done on one 
arm ?*' I asked. " It is as well to be thoroughly 
protected," said Squills, as he began to dig into 
my left arm. Struggles came next, looking sixty- 
five at least, and as white as a sheet. " I should 
think you are almost too old," said the cruel 
Squills, " but I suppose it is right to be on the 
safe side/ 5 So Struggles was done. Next came 
our under-butler, a fine tall young man, but who 
under a noble body concealed a craven heart. 
His right arm was not done before he fell down 
in a faint, had to be stretched out on the floor on 
his back, and was only brought round by the 
care of Struggles, who poured some brandy 
down his throat. In a former state of existence 
that under-butler must have been a hare ; and 
though he cleans plate beautifully I hope he will 
never be drawn for the militia, and have to com- 
bat with the Prussian Uhlans. A footman fol- 
lowed, and a page. The first thought it a serious 
matter, and the last a joke, and so our vaccina- 
tion was over, and Squills departed rubbing his 
hands as he had come. 

You will not expect me to describe the agonies 
of our household for ten days after that fatal 


morning. From what I have said you will have 
seen that my wife is of a most angelic temper — 
when she has everything her own way ; but, alas, 
when even a woman of angelic temper has been 
vaccinated she finds so many things against her 
that she is apt to lose her serenity. For these 
ten days my house was ruled by a termagant, 
and as it is always ruled by my wife, you may 
guess who that termagant was. Suffice it to say 
that we were scolded up hill and down dale for 
ten days. Heaven help the household, the head 
of which is vaccinated, I often said to myself. 
As for me, let any man come forward and say 
that he has seen me out of temper in ordinary 
times, and I will give him a new hat, or a Green- 
wich dinner, or a seat for the Albert Hall : but, 
I must confess it, I was then as cross as two 
sticks. Flad I dared I would have picked a 
quarrel with my wife, but when I reflected that it 
was no use quarrelling with a person who is more 
cross than yourself, I gave up the notion, and 
took it out by scolding Struggles, and reproach- 
ing the under-butler for his cowardice. The 
worst was we were all cross and ailing at once. 
I was not so bad as the others, but I was bad 
enough. I could just get my coat on, but as for 
Struggles both his arms swelled up so, and were 
so stiff that he went about in his shirt-sleeves for 
a whole week. Our cook could do nothing, and 


Mrs. Jellybag would do nothing. The maids went 
about the house hanging their heads and holding 
their arms down stiff at their sides, and one and 
all execrated my wife, and me, and Mr. Squills, 
who had brought this pain and grief on them. It 
was no use telling them that it was all for their 
good, and that they might have caught the small- 
pox else. All they knew was that the cow-pox 
was the plague of the hour, and as for the small- 
pox he was like death and the day of judgment a 
long way off, and meantime they could snap their 
fingers at him ; and they would have snapped 
them, only their arms were so stiff and sore they 
could not lift a finger, much less snap them. My 
wife who had issued the ukase that all our little 
world should be vaccinated, was one of the worst 
sufferers ; but she bore up bravely, and said, 
"But it is all for the public good and the 
sake of example. If every one did as we do, 
there would be no such disease as small-pox ; " 
and I must say I fully believed her, till one day 
when Struggles was groaning and moaning at 
not being able to get on his coat, when some 
friends were coming to dinner, and I was trying 
to console him by saying " At any rate you are 
well protected against the small-pox." " I am 
not so sure of that, sir," was his answer. " What 
happens once may happen again, and as I had 
the small-pox wery bad when I was a boy, which 


it is still that I can show the marks to any 
doctor, I don't know as how I mightn't have it 
again, in spite of this here waccination." This 
revelation on the part of our worthy butler was 
so appalling that though I have not dared to tell 
it to my wife, I thought I would send it you for 
the New Gazette, with the remark that though I 
am the greatest advocate for re-vaccination, I 
really do not think it necessary that men past 
sixty, who have had the small-pox in their youth, 
should be driven to re-vaccination by mistresses 
who may possess the angelic temper of my wife. 

Believe me to be, with the greatest respect, 

Your obedient servant, 

J. Sneak, junr. 



Memorable words were those uttered by King 
Olaf Haroldson, a few days before his death, as 
he was crossing the border from Sweden to Nor- 
way, and climbing the ridge which looks down 
upon Veradale, and far out towards the west : 
" Yes, I am silent," he replied to Bishop Sigurd, 
who had asked why the flow of lively wit, with 
which he had cheered his chosen band on their 
weary way, had suddenly ceased, and why the 
King had sunk into a fit of brooding reserve. 
" Yes, I am silent, for strange things have now 
for a while come over me. As I gazed from the 
Fells towards the west, I thought how many 
happy days I have spent in this land. Then me- 
thought I saw not as far as Drontheim alone, but 

over all Norway ; and lo ! the longer the vision 


* 1. "Det Norske Folks Historic" P. A. Munch. Vols. i. ii. 
iii. Christiania, 1852-55. 

2. " Den Danske Erobring af England og Normandiet." J. J. 
A. Worsaae. Copenhagen, Gyldendalske Boghhandling, 1863. 


lasted, the farther I saw, till I saw over the whole 
earth, both land and sea. Then it seemed as 
though I knew clearly all the spots whither I had 
been before ; but just as clearly saw I the spots 
which I had not before seen ; yea, some even I 
had never heard spoken of, both where men dwell 
and where no man dwells, so far as the wide 
world stretches." Then the Bishop alighted 
from his horse, bowed before the King, and em- 
braced his feet. " It is a saint we here follow,'* 
were his words to the wondering band. Not the 
least remarkable even among that company was 
Harold Sigurdson, the King's half-brother, a 
youth scarce fifteen, but tall and manly beyond 
his years. Three days afterwards, the King met 
his rebellious chiefs at Sticklestad, a farm in 
Lower Veradale, and there, after a stubborn 
fight, he fell, with great part of his host, on the 
31st of August, 1030. But though conquered, he 
fell a conqueror. Much perished at Sticklestad 
besides the mortal body of Olaf Haroldson. 
That was the last outbreak in Norway of the old 
faith and the old order of things, against the new 
Christianity and the new system, of which Olaf 
was the great champion in the North. It was a 
protest against progress, civil culture, social 
order, and law rightly understood. Many cen- 
turies of old tradition, and a whole array of 
popular beliefs, stood side by side with the 


sturdy chiefs, who nominally fought for King 
Canute and the Danish rule in Norway, but 
really for their old prejudices, superstitions, and 
customs, for their isolated and individual inde- 
pendence, for their right of private war, for their 
own interests, in short, matched against the 
common good. Even before the fatal day, it is 
easy to see from all the accounts that the minds 
of the chiefs were ill at ease; even then the 
leaven of Olaf s enlightened reign was secretly 
working in the hearts of his people, who were 
led, many of them much against their consciences, 
to fight against their former lord. It seemed, no 
doubt, to many, a strange and bitter thing to 
fight for Danish rule against their lawful king, 
whose faults, whatever they might have been, 
were virtues compared to the insults and injuries 
suffered under a foreign yoke. Bitterer still for 
brother to slay brother, father son, and friend 
friend. The very fact that the host of the 
chiefs was overwhelming, while the King's band 
was small, though it helped his subjects to their 
hard-won victory, brought with it a reproachful 
feeling after the battle had ended in Olafs over- 
throw, for it lessened the joy of victory to re- 
member that numbers more than prowess had 
turned the fight, and Olafs undaunted bravery 
only stood out in stronger and brighter relief 
against the dark masses of his foes. When to 


all this was added the " uncanny " feeling that, 
as well before God as towards men, they were on 
the wrong side, that Olaf was God's champion, 
that the firmness of his faith refused all heathen 
aid, that he refused to have any but baptized 
warriors in his ranks ; in a word, that the wrath 
of Heaven was hot against the chiefs, and showed 
itself by strange signs and tokens, not the least 
of which was the total eclipse of the sun, which 
happened on that very afternoon, and hid the 
deed of blood with thick darkness just when Olaf 
fell: when we think of all this, we need not 
wonder that those headstrong chiefs went back 
to their homesteads with the weight of murder 
on their hearts, or that they looked upon the 
sufferings which befell them shortly after from 
the Danish rule, as a just retribution for their 
sin. Then it was that the bishop's saying that 
King Olaf was a saint spread like wildfire among 
the people for whom he had done so much, and 
who had treated him so ill. Within the year, 
his body, which no one at first dared so much as 
to shelter beneath a roof, and which had been 
buried by stealth in a sandhill near NrSaros, as 
Drontheim was then called, was solemnly ex- 
humed in the presence of, and in spite of the 
Danish rulers. It was found to be fresh and in- 
corrupt, and laid in a costly shrine ; and thus it 
was, that " Olaf the Fat," as his foes mockingly 


called him from the stoutness and fulness of his 
figure, became Saint Olaf, the patron of Norway 
and the North ; so fulfilling in a wonderful way, 
a part at least of the vision which the King had 
seen on the Fells between Sweden and Norwa}^. 
But the repentance of the chiefs and people 
went further. By his death Olaf gave Norway 
that common feeling which makes a nation. So 
long as countries are split into small kingships, 
and each valley has its chief, it is difficult to get 
them to combine for one common effort, and such 
countries are the natural prey of bold invaders. 
So it had been in Norway. Neither the mighty 
Harold Fairhair, great as had been his power — ■ 
nor any of his sons and descendants, more or 
less feeble successors to his sway, had succeeded 
in rousing Norway to national spirit. Their time 
was spent in putting down rising after rising, and 
in bowing down the haughty necks of chief after 
chief. They were ^kings often without a people, 
in hiding, in exile, and often their .royal robe 
proved at last a bloody winding-sheet. At most 
they were kings of a part of Norway at a time, 
with other parts of the country in arms against 
them. But after Olaf s death all felt the want of 
a native ruler, all hated the Danish rule of 
Canute's son, Sweyn, who, a mere child, was a 
puppet in the arms of his mother Alfiva,* the 

* Her true Saxon name was JElfgifu. She was a daughter of 


hated Saxon woman, with whom the great Canute 
— or Old Canute as the Northmen called him — 
had contracted an adulterous connexion, or at 
best a left-handed marriage across the sea in 
subject England, and all turned their eyes to 
Russia, where, under the fostering care of King 
Jaroslav, Magnus, Saint Olaf s only son by Alf- 
hilda, the Saxon slave-girl, a child of rare gifts 
of mind and body, was tenderly cherished and 
jealously guarded by his father's friends and 

The capital of the Russian rule in those days 
was Kieff, where the dynasty originally sprung 
from Rurik, the Scandinavian Viking, held its 
court. In the reign of Vladimir the Great, Jaro- 
slav's father, those tribes had been converted to 
Christianity, and in his brother-in-law Jaroslav, 
for they both married daughters of King Olaf of 
Sweden, Saint Olaf had ever found a faithful 
friend and zealous follower of the true faith. 
The relations of the Russians to the North in 
general, and to Sweden in particular, were, for 

^Elfhelm Ealdorman of Northampton. Florence of Worcester 
(Monum. Hist. Brit., i. 597) calls her " filia Alfhelmi ducis et nobilis 
matronae Wulfrunae." He calls her also " Hamtunensis " and 
" Northamtunensis." Snorro (Heimskr., chap. 258) calls her 
father "Alfrun," a name blended out of his own and his wife's 
name. She had long been Canute's concubine before he was said 
to have married her, and even Saint Olaf was said by some to have 
been her lover, but the great king had lured her away from the then 
Norwegian Viking. 


the most part, friendly, and through Russia, and 
down the Dnieper to the Black Sea, ran a con- 
stant stream of trade between the North and the 
farthest East. To Russia, then, the eyes of the 
repentant Norwegian chiefs were turned, and 
messages passed between the exiles in Russia 
and their countrymen at home, which ended in 
the year 1034, in an embassy or deputation, which 
went through Sweden to Russia, crossed the 
Baltic, and so up the Gulf of Finland to Aldeig- 
jaborg, a mart on Lake Ladoga, which was, in 
fact, the port of Holmgard, or Novgorod. At 
first, Jaroslav was very unwilling to trust the son 
to the murderers of the father, but at last, moved 
by the entreaties of the Norwegians in his service, 
he allowed him to go, after taking solemn oaths 
from twelve of the chiefs to be faithful to Magnus. 
So the chiefs went home by the same way in 
1 03 5 ; and on reaching Norway, the feeling in 
favour of Magnus was so general, that he won 
his father's kingdom without a blow, and Sweyn 
and his mother fled to Denmark, never to return. 
Now let us leave Magnus in quiet possession 
of his kingdom, where, a boy of ten years old 
when he returned, he grew up, showing early 
great powers both of body and mind. We must 
not forget that half-brother of Saint Olaf, Harold, 
the son of Sigurd Syr, who, when fifteen years 
old, thought himself, and was thought by others, 


man enough to take part in the bloody fight at 
Sticklestad. True it is that King Olaf, just be- 
fore the onslaught, was unwilling that his brother 
should share his perils. " He is a bairn in age,' 5 
said the saint, " let him stand aside." Harold 
would not hear of such an indignity. " I will 
have my sword's-hilt tied to my arm, if I am not 
strong enough to wield it, for no one has better 
will than I to trounce these boors." He had his 
way, fought with great renown, and came out of 
the fray sorely wounded ; but Rognvald, Brusi's 
son, the Orkney Earl, Saint Olaf s foster-child, 
brought the lad out of the fight, bound up his 
wounds, and fled with him in the night to an 
outlying farm up the dale. The owner showed 
him every kindness, kept him there by stealth 
till his wounds were healed, and then gave him 
his son for a guide across the Swedish wilds. 
The farmer probably knew the name of his guest, 
but his household seem neither to have known 
the worth of the life nor the rank of the man whom 
they had thus befriended ; yet the son, in after 
days, could tell how, " after the battle in which 
King Olaf fell, there came twelve men to my 
father's house, and brought with them a wounded 
man. The man who led them was the fairest of 
men, and light was his hair. After that those 
men went on their way ; but a while after that 
same summer, my father bade me saddle two 
VOL. n. M 


horses, and I did as he bade me, and then my 
father came, and led with him a man tall of 
growth, in a red cloak, and he had a flapping 
hat slouched over his brows, so that one could 
not see his face. My father bade me guide that 
man till he told me to turn back. So we fared 
both together, and one day, as we rode through 
some woodlands, he checked his horse, and 
turned towards me, and sung this with a laugh, — 

' Now cross I wood on wood, 
A wight of little worth, 
Who kens but I may be 
Widely known hereafter.' 

" So we fared till we came east of the waste to 
some land where men dwelt, and which was 
strange to me, and soon after we found those 
same men who had brought the wounded man to 
my father's house. They hailed the man in the 
red cloak by the name of * Harold/ Then saw I 
his face and features. He was a stalwart man, 
pale of hue, and yet noble, rather scowling and 
grim of countenance, but courteous withal. He 
gave me then a belt and a knife, and bade me 
turn back. Then I fared till I came home to my 
father's house." 

From Sweden Earl Rognvald and his charge 
passed over to Russia to Jaroslav's Court, where 
Magnus was. Here Harold spent about two 
years, entering, no doubt still under Earl Rogn- 


vald's guardianship, into that band of warriors, 
the original of those Varangians * so famous in 
the annals of Byzantium, and of whom we shall 
shortly have to speak. Here he gained some 
skill in war, and made a step or two on that 
path of fame on which, as we have seen, his 
heart was set. He had now another reason for 
exertion. At Jaroslav's Court the youth of seven- 
teen met Elizabeth the king's daughter, and 

* There seems to be no doubt that the Varangians at Constanti- 
nople were a copy of the Northern Band or Body-guard with which 
the Russian princes, and particularly Vladimir, had strengthened 
his power. Vladimir, in fact, found it prudent to disband a portion 
of them. The following are Nestor's words, as given by Munch : 
" The Varangians said to Vladimir, This town Kieff belongs to us ; 
we have conquered it, and we will hare a ransom from every in- 
habitant." " Wait a month," answered Vladimir, " till the sable 
skins come." But the sable skins did not come. Then the Varan- 
gians said, " Thou hast cheated us, but we know the way to Greece." 
" Very well ! be off with you," said Vladimir. Meantime he picked 
out the best and bravest of them, and divided them amongst the 
different quarters of the town. The rest took their way to the 
Emperor's city. But Vladimir sent an embassy before them to 
greet the Emperor, and to tell him, " A band of Varangians are 
coming to thee; do not expose thyself to the risk of letting them 
come all together into thy city, for then they will make disturbances 
as they do here. Divide them, and destroy them, but above all 
things let none of them come back." It is very true that Nestor 
and other Russian writers use the word Varangian to mean a man 
from the western or Scandinavian side of the Baltic, and not of any 
particular band, but it is as true that these Varangians whom 
Vladimir devoted to destruction, were a part of his body-guard. 
The Emperor seems to have taken the hint to divide, without find- 
ing it necessary to destroy the auxiliaries, for the number at Con- 
stantinople, in early times at least, seems to have been compara- 
tively small, nor do they seem to have originated, though they 
often assisted, in the disturbances so common in the imperial city. 


became a suitor for her hand. Her father did 
not refuse his suit, but said, he must think twice 
before he gave away his daughter to a foreigner, 
" who has no realm of his own to rule, and is 
besides not over rich in goods/' So they were 
to wait, as so many lovers have waited, till they 
were a little older, and till Harold, by the favour 
of Saint Olaf and his own strong arm, had won 
more fame and wealth. 

But to fame and wealth in those days there 
was one royal road for a warrior from the North 
in the East of Europe. This was to seek ser- 
vice in the Emperor's body-guard — the famous 
Varangians at Constantinople. They are first 
mentioned by the Byzantine historians about 
the year 1034, but nearly fifty years before that 
date we know, from Northern sources, that it 
was customary for Scandinavians to enter into 
such a body of men. The first we read of is 
Kolskegg, in the Njal Saga, of whom we are 
told that when he parted from his brother 
Gunnar, in the year 985, he stayed for some 
time in Denmark and Russia, and at last betook 
himself to Constantinople, where he became 
captain of the Varangians. In all likelihood 
they were established by the Emperor, very soon 
after the events at Kieff, under Vladimir, of 
which we have already spoken. That would 
be about the year 990. It had always been 


the custom of the Emperors of the East to 
employ foreign mercenaries ; but these were of 
a peculiar sort. Their duties were extraordinary, 
and their discipline strict. After they had once 
taken the Emperor's pay, or gone a mala, as the 
Northern expression was, they belonged entirely 
to the Emperor and themselves. After a given 
time they were free to leave the band. Strife 
and blows were not allowed among them, and 
if they arose were punished with instant death, 
— a provision, as has been well remarked, very 
needful among a company of men recruited from 
all the nations of the North, and among whom 
the deadliest enemies in their native land would 
be thrown by fortune side by side. It was from 
the strictness and sanctity of their obligations 
and engagements, that their name arose.* But 
along with strict discipline and heavy obliga- 
tions, they had also great privileges, and enjoyed 
large favour. In Russia, a Varangian, if at- 
tacked or assaulted by a Sclavonian, needed 
not to bring witness to prove his case ; his 
own oath was enough. In Constantinople, they 

* Vdr, Anglo-Saxon war, from which the name arose, had 
nothing to do with war. It meant oath, or a promise sanctioned 
by an oath, and from this point of view might be considered only as 
a translation of the Latin Sacramentum, — the oath taken to their 
colours by the Roman soldiers. Among the Greek historians the 
word Vseringjar passed into fiapayyoi, pronounced Varangi, whence 
our Varangian. See Munch, N. H., ii. 55, note. 


had the same great but necessary immunity, 
without which it would have been hardly pos- 
sible for them to fulfil their duties. These were 
to guard, when at home, the Emperor's person 
and his treasures. Wherever the Emperor 
showed himself, either in the city or out of it, 
in travel or in war, his body-guard, armed with 
their long-hafted Norwegian axes, followed him. 
Their daily duty in the city was to keep watch 
and ward, as well outside the palace as in its 
innermost recesses, at the door of the Emperor's 
bedchamber. Their quarters formed part of the 
palace itself, the south-western wing of which 
was called Excubita, a word which Northern 
mouths gradually shortened into Skift* In all 
public festivals and processions, when the Em- 
peror showed himself arrayed in all his glory, 
the Varangians held a forward place. They 
stood by him at his coronation in the church 
of Saint Sophia. They were inseparable from 
him in pomp as well as in war, and their Cap- 

* This change, as Munch observed, is easy to understand, espe- 
cially when one bears in mind how other words were treated by the 
Northmen. Thus " Hagia Sophia," now the Mosque of Saint 
Sophia, became "iEgisif;" the Hippodrome "Padreim;" 
" Monachus," " Munak." So it was that "Excubitum," which 
the vulgar in Constantinople itself called £<7Kou/3iro»>, and okov($itov, 
pronounced " Skuviton," was contracted into " Skuvt," Skyvt, and 
lastly Skift. Compare also Stalimene, formed from tc rav Xiftiva, 
and " Stamboul" itself from eg tuv IIoXiv. 


tain was therefore rightly called by the Greeks 
Akoluthos, or Follower. 

But besides these privileges which clung round 
the Emperor, when alive, one more valuable still 
was the right of his body-guard when he expired. 
This was the strange right or custom known to 
Northern writers as Polota svarf, literally, " the 
Scouring of the Palace." By it they were en- 
titled, when the Emperor died, to roam at will 
through the imperial treasury, when every man 
as he passed might clutch and carry off what- 
ever he could seize. 

As regarded numbers, this famous band was 
never very large, and in this respect the Em- 
peror took Vladimir's hint. From 1000 to 2400 
men seem to have been its strength at various 
times. About 500 of these were often employed 
on service in the field away from Constantinople, 
as a firm knot or nucleus of strength round which 
the weaker and looser stuff out of which the Em- 
peror's forces were composed might cluster and 
rally. The nationality of that heart or knot 
changed at various times, beating strongly in 
unison with the fortunes of the Northern races 
in their own native lands. At first Swedes, as 
nearest to Russia and the East, were strong 
in it ; then as troubles arose in Norway, Nor- 
wegians and Icelanders, like Kolskegg and 
Haldor, Snorri's son. About this period there 


would be fewer Danes, as they had their hands 
full with their English wars. Then Danes, as 
Norway became more settled and national, and 
lastly Englishmen, as the Anglo-Saxons mixed 
no doubt with many a sturdy warrior from 
Northumbria, left their native land after the 
Norman Conquest. And thus it is that England, 
last on the list in order of time, came to be con- 
sidered as the main source whence the Varan- 
gians at Byzantium sprung, and that the later 
Greek and Italian writers speak of " Angles who 
are called Varangians," and make them hail the 
Emperor at Yule, and wish him a long life in 
their native tongue, that tongue being English, 


Of this splendid corps at the famous city of 
the great Emperor at Constantinople, or as the 
Northmen called it Micklegarth, the "town of 
towns," Harold Sigurdson had often heard 
during his stay at Jaroslav's Court. There was 
the field for enterprise, and thither down the 
Dneiper he passed, followed by a goodly com- 
pany, in the autumn of the year 1032. In that 
band were no doubt many of his own country- 
men, but the mass of them seem to have been 
Russians, and they even seem to have been a 
body of Russian auxiliaries which the Emperor 
was anxious to take into his pay. We say the 
Emperor, but the ruling spirit in Constantinople 


at that time was not a man but a woman. 
Romanos Argyros, or Argyropoulos, was in- 
deed Emperor, but he was only Emperor by 
the will of Zoe his wife, — the lustful and am- 
bitious Zoe, a daughter of his predecessor Con- 
stantine IX., who had died in 1028. The mar- 
riage was not one of affection on either side. 
It was altogether a political union. Romanos 
was old, and Zoe fifty. But, in spite of her 
years, she was soon weary of her husband, and 
her heart was set on the young and handsome 
Michael Katallaktes, whom his kinsman, John 
the Paphlagonian, one of the chief eunuchs 
about the Court, had taken care to throw in 
the way of the Empress. Though he seems to 
have been a victim to epilepsy, Michael soon 
found favour in Zoe's eyes, and her great aim 
now was to get Romanos quietly out of the way, 
that her guilty passion might pass into a lawful 
love. Romanos was not happy at home, and 
his life hung upon a hair ; but abroad he was 
not more lucky. The Saracens pressed hard on 
his eastern border, and harried every coast in 
their galleys. Bulgarians and Petchengers 
wasted his empire on the north. In the south 
of Italy, where the Greeks still held their own 
against the Lombard Dukes, a new foe had 
sprung up in those Norman warriors whose 
prowess showed them not degenerate from their 


Scandinavian forefathers. The Empire of the 
East stood therefore in need of brave warriors, 
and Harold's love of adventure, and greed of 
winning wealth and fame, were soon satisfied. 
His first campaign, in which he served no doubt 
as a leader over those Russian auxiliaries, was 
made by sea against the Saracens almost as 
soon as he arrived. It was followed by com- 
plete success, and Nicephoros Karantenos, the 
Emperor's general, utterly routed the enemy in 
more than one bloody fight. Harold returned 
to Constantinople the same winter, but though 
he was known to many of his countrymen there, 
he does not seem to have entered at once 
into the brotherhood of the Varangians. With 
characteristic prudence he even concealed his 
name, and was known during his whole service 
among the Greeks by a foreign name. He 
called himself "Nordbrikt," in all probability 
to conceal his connexion with Jaroslav, whose 
policy was regarded at Constantinople with 
great suspicion. In his Saga, written when 
his fame had filled the whole North, it is said 
that he had hidden his name, because foreign 
princes were not tolerated in Constantinople; but 
a youth of barely seventeen, unknown to fame, 
and coming from what must have seemed to the 
Greeks the very ends of the earth, even though 
of a princely stock, could scarcely have been 


excluded on the score of birth. However that 
might be, he hid his name and lineage, perhaps 
simply from the feeling of an exile's shame, and 
served for a while among the Russian auxiliaries, 
and not with his own countrymen. Now he was 
sent by land to the Babylonian border, where 
the town of Perkrin had been seized and held by 
Alim, a Saracen rebel. The Emperor's forces 
retook the place, and Alim was slain. Of this 
campaign, Harold's skald Thiodolf sung in after- 
days, that he had harried the Saracen's land, 
and won eighty towns. From this time during 
the next four years, from 1033 to 1037, Harold 
was actively employed against the Saracens in 
Egypt, in Syria, and in the Holy Land, and 
in the latter year he returned to Constantinople, 
a warrior skilled in arms, in the full bloom of his 
youth and strength, twenty-two years old, fair of 
face and fair of hue, and wondrous tall, for his 
stature was above seven English feet.* 

Meantime the lustful Zoe had fulfilled her 
plans. Romanos lived too long. A slow poison 
had been given him, but he still lingered. Her 
impatience passed all bounds of decency, and on 
Shrove Tuesday, April 11, 1034, she had him 

* Five Norwegian ells, each very little less than an English foot 
and a half. According to this he would be about seven English 
feet and five inches, or just seven and a half of the present Nor- 
wegian feet. That his stature was extraordinary is plain from the 
answer made to Tostig before the battle of Stamford Bridge. 


suffocated in his bath, and that very day was 
wedded to Michael, who now mounted the 
throne by her side. But remorse and his dread- 
ful disease gave the guilty husband no peace, 
and they led a wretched life. It was when this 
deed of shame had been done two or three years 
that Harold came back from the wars, peace 
having been made with the Caliph in Egypt, 
and then it was that he entered into the Em- 
peror's body-guard, and became Captain, though 
as it seems, not Akoluthos of the Varangians. 
His absence from the capital will account for 
the fact that his birth and lineage were still 
known but to a few chosen followers, who pro- 
bably entered into the brotherhood at the same 
time. To the great mass he was known only as 
" Nordbrikt," over whose birth and destiny a 
dark veil hung, which many tried to lift without 
success. But all thought that fair face and 
kingly mien, those stalwart limbs, and that 
gigantic frame, were fated one day to do great 
things. " . 

It was the custom of the Varangians, and part 
of their discipline, to hold musters and reviews, 
where all were bound to answer the roll-call, to 
show that their arms, the long-hafted axe, the 
heavy sword, and oblong shield running down 
into a point, were kept sharp, bright, and fit for 
instant use. After the muster followed games 



and sports. Football and wrestling, the darling 
pastimes of the North, were not forgotten, and 
lest, as too often happened in their native land, 
the rude sport should turn to anger and strife, 
it was the law that whosoever dared to do his 
brother-in-arms wilful hurt should be punished 
with death on the spot.* It was on one of these 
occasions when the games were at their height, 
and some played while others sat round in a 
triple ring, and amongst them Harold " Nord- 
brikt," that the Empress and her ladies came 
that way, and stopped to gaze on their manly 
forms. After admiring for a while their strength 
and skill, the Empress cast her eyes on Harold, 
and going straight up to him, said, " Listen, 
Northman ! give me a lock of thy hair." 
Harold's answer it is impossible to give, but it 
asked for something in return, which even Zoe, 
who had granted so many favours, could not 
have given. But the reply though coarse and 
rude was witty and quick, and all laughed that 
heard it, though they wondered at the boldness 

* For their strict discipline see the pretty story in Cedrenus, 
where a Varangian who had tried to violate a woman had been 
stabbed to death by his victim, who clutched his sword in her need, 
and drove it through his body. So far from being angered at this 
bold deed, or from seeking to avenge it, the Varangians, collected 
in a body, crowned her with garlands, and made over to her all the 
goods of the guilty man, whose body was left unburied, as one 
whose misdeeds had put him out of the pale of their fellowship. 


of the youth who thus dared to turn the tables 
on the Empress, and did not spare her with his 
biting words. Zoe herself, whose taste could not 
have been over nice, seems to have been little 
shocked, and went on her way smiling at 
Harold's words, and feeding her eyes on his 
manly form. 

But it was not in witty jests and in idle games 
that Harold's life was to be spent ; war soon 
called him once more to the field, and this time 
it was against a worthier foe. In the year 1038, 
he went with the Varangians under the com- 
mand of George Maniakes to Lower Italy, and 
Sicily. Now for the first time we see him step 
forward as leader of the Northern Brotherhood. 
He was not Akoluthos, for that high officer 
never left the capital, and was commonly a 
Greek; but he had a more honourable post as 
leader or captain in the field of that body which 
left Constantinople for foreign service. George, 
though he does not seem to have been in good 
odour with his auxiliaries, was a gallant and 
lucky captain. Under him they won many 
towns, now from the Lombards, now from the 
Normans, now from the Saracens in Sicily. The 
theatre of war shifts like the colours of a kaleido- 
scope. In Sicily alone they won thirteen cities, 
and at Messina, where they were besieged by 
the Saracen Emir Abulafar, by a spirited sally 


they routed him in his very camp, and took such 
booty, that the victors shared amongst them 
silver and gold and gems by the bushel. George 
Maniakes indeed fell into disgrace, and was 
sent in chains to Constantinople, but his forces 
remained behind, and did many doughty deeds, 
though the fortune of war gradually turned 
against the Greeks, and they retired from Italy 
at least, leaving garrisons in a few towns. But 
though the Emperor's fortune waned, his auxi- 
liaries won fame and wealth ; and it was in these 
campaigns, no doubt, that Harold laid by much 
of that huge store of gold and precious things 
which was the wonder of the time, when he 
brought it safe back to the North. That he 
was prudent as well as brave, we know, from 
the fact, stated over and over again in the 
Northern Sagas, that he sent his spoil from time 
to time to his Russian friend Jaroslav, who 
hoarded it faithfully for him, and saw in it an 
earnest, that if Harold lived, his daughter Eliza- 
beth would have a wealthy as well as a daring 

But we must hasten on, for Harold is still but 
a youth, and we have still much to tell. In 
1 04 1, Harold returned to Constantinople with 
his Varangians, among whom was his faithful 
but plain-spoken friend, Haldor, Snorri's son, 
the son of that worldly-wise Snorri, the Priest, 


of whom we hear so much in Njala. If Harold 
had gotten wealth, Haldor, too, had brought 
something away from those campaigns in the 
mark of an ugly scar across his face, which he 
had gotten in taking a town by a stratagem, 
when he had a lively passage of words with 
Harold, and showed the temper which after- 
wards got worse and worse in his dealings with 
the king. No doubt, Harold now began to feel 
that longing for home, which clings, perhaps, to 
the men of the North more than to the dwellers 
in any other land. But before he left the Em- 
peror's banner, it was his lot to see more blood- 
shed, and to win still greater wealth. In De- 
cember, 1 04 1, shortly after Harold's return, the 
Emperor Michael, worn out with remorse and 
disease, ceased to live. Just before his death 
he had persuaded Zoe to name his nephew, 
whose name was also Michael, to the purple. 
She adopted him as her son, and made him em- 
peror on his uncle's death. This Michael, com- 
monly called Kalafates, because his father had 
been a ship-chandler, showed the baseness of 
his blood by black ingratitude to his patroness. 
At the instigation of his uncle John, the Paphla- 
gonian, he had Zoe seized in the night of the 
19th of April, shaved her head, and shut her up 
in a convent. But his villany was short-lived. 
Next day, when what he had done got wind, 


there arose one of those fearful popular outbursts 
of which, in modern times, it has been reserved 
for Madrid to show a feeble copy. With one 
voice the people shouted for "their Mother 
Zoe;" and the maddened crowd, armed with 
every weapon that rage could clutch, rushed 
first to the Church of Saint Sophia, where the 
Patriarch made common cause with them, and 
whither they brought Theodora, Zoe's sister ; 
her they clad in the purple, and proclaimed as 
empress. Next they bent their steps to the 
palace, where the terrified Michael sent in haste 
for Zoe, and again presented her to the crowd in 
her imperial robes. But as soon as he showed 
himself to the people they pelted him with 
stones, and hurled lances and javelins at him. 
At first he was for flying to a monastery, but at 
last, plucking up courage from the upbraidings 
of his friends, he put himself at the head of some 
of his guards, and sallied out against the crowd, 
who were attacking the palace from the Hippo- 
drome, and from the Skift or wing in which the 
Varangians dwelt. Now arose a desperate 
struggle in which 3,000 of the people are said 
to have fallen, but nevertheless the Emperor's 
adherents were overcome by the multitude, aided 
by the Varangians, who broke into the palace to 
search for the Emperor, and plundered it of all 
the treasures they could find. Michael fled to a 
VOL. 11. N 


monastery, and hid himself in a monk's cowl, 
April 20, 1042, and Zoe and Theodora were joint 
empresses. As for Michael, the Senate, when 
consulted, declared that he must either be 
blinded or put to death. Zoe felt pity for his 
misfortunes, but Theodora sent the prefect at 
once to put out the wretched man's eyes on the 
spot. At his heels followed a swarm of folk. 
Michael took refuge in the sanctuary of St. 
John the Baptist, but the mob respected no 
sanctuaries. They tore him from his hiding- 
place, dragged him to the place called Sigma, 
and then and there plucked out his eyes on the 
2 1 st April, 1042. His reign had lasted four 
months and five days. 

In all these proceedings Harold had his full 
share. He and his Varangians sided with Zoe, 
as is evident from the fact that it was from the 
quarters of this corps that one of the attacks of 
the insurgents upon the palace came— that Old 
Seraglio which stood till a month or two ago, 
when, after having beheld the fortunes of the 
capital for 1,500 years, it fell a prey to the flames. 
Harold's skalds, contemporary witnesses, could 
sing in after-days how " the curber of hosts 
plucked the eyes out of the Prince's head ; " and 
again, in another place, " the mighty leader tore 
out both the Emperor's eyne ; " " an ugly mark 
set the Lord of Agdir (Harold) on the Prince's 


brow, the King of the Greeks fared ill under his 
hand." And again, still more plainly : " The 
Prince (Harold) won yet more gold, but the 
King of the Greeks went stone blind from his 
sore wounds." It seems, then, as if the bloody 
deed had been done with Harold's own hand. 
The captain of the Varangians was lord of Con- 
stantinople on that day of tumult, and there is 
little reason to doubt that on this, the third 
"scouring of the palace" at which Harold as- 
sisted, he added greatly to the store of wealth 
which he had already won. Whether it was at 
this period of his service at Constantinople that 
he visited Greece, properly so called, is not 
clear from the accounts ; but we know that he 
was both in the Morea and Attica more than 
once, and at one of his visits it is more than 
likely that he and his bands scored the Runes 
which tell of the deeds of Harold the Tall on the 
great lion which then lay in the Piraeus, but may 
now be seen, a trophy of Morosini's exploits, in 
the Arsenal at Venice. 

We have already said that Harold began to 
long for his native land. He had heard that the 
rule of Sweyn and his mother had vanished like 
a morning mist before the rising sun of Magnus, 
and he grudged the realm of Harold Fairhair to 
a beardless boy. This alone would have been 
enough to make him exercise the right of every 


Varangian to throw up his service after a given 
time, and be free to leave Constantinople. But 
there was another reason. Harold, we have 
seen* had come with Russians to the East. 
With Russians he served at first, and as a 
foreigner with no true Northern name he had 
served among the Varangians, known only to a 
chosen few as Harold Sigurdson. In all likeli- 
hood he was always looked upon by the Greeks 
as a Russian adventurer, and his friendship with 
Jaroslav must have been well known. But now, 
in the summer of 1043, war broke out between 
the Greeks and Russians, and though the 
Russians were at first successful, the Emperor 
at last prevailed, chiefly by the aid of that Greek 
Fire of which we have lately heard so much. 
The Emperor's general Basil utterly routed the 
Russian fleet in a great battle at the mouth of 
the Bosporus, and, according to the Russian 
account, 6,000 of the dead floated on the waves, 
the Greeks reckoning them at more than twice 
that number. The remnant of the Russian host, 
which were led by Vladimir, Jaroslav' s son, were 
glad to make their escape, a multitude of 
prisoners were taken, and a large body which 
tried to fly by land were overtaken at Varna by 
the Emperor's troops, and totally defeated, with 
the loss of many slain and 800 prisoners. But a 
blow struck so close to Constantinople might 



well alarm the timid Greeks. Every Russian 
trader that could be found was thrown into 
prison, and every Russian was an object of sus- 
picion. Then it was that Harold seems to have 
left the Varangians, and then it certainly was 
that the trouble overtook him which was the 
final cause of his departure from Constantinople. 
The Sagas, indeed, say little of the Russian war. 
They tell how Zoe, out of jealousy, now looked 
with hatred on the tall Varangian captain ; how 
Harold had love passages with Maria, Zoe's 
niece ; how they were slandered, watched, and 
almost surprised at one of their meetings ; how 
the Emperor — for by this time Zoe had a third 
husband — chiefly through Zoe's intrigues, backed 
by the envy of George Maniakes, who could not 
forgive Harold for having proved himself a 
better and braver soldier than the Greek leader 
in their Italian campaigns, had Harold thrown 
into a dungeon, with his two faithful brothers- 
in-arms, Haldor, Snorri's son, and Ulf, Ospak's 
son, one of whom long lived to tell the grisly 
tale at the Althing in Iceland. That dungeon 
was an open pit, into which trickled a thin rill 
of water, and there, by the side of the stream, 
lay a huge dragon or crocodile, whose prey they 
were doomed to be.. The pit was full of dead 
men's bones and bodies, the wretched remains 
of those who had been thrown into it by the 


Emperor's wrath. The monster was asleep 
when they were let down, and there the three 
sat down among the bones, and Haldor began 
to bewail their hard fate. " Let us rather first 
call on my brother, St. Olaf," said Harold, "and 
then let us attack the dragon. Let Haldor 
throw himself on his head, and Ulf, who is the 
strongest of us all, on his tail. I will then try 
to slay him with this knife, the only weapon we 
have between us." So they fell upon the brute, 
and Harold, wrapping a cloak round his left 
hand, thrust it, together with a stout stick, into 
its jaws, while with his knife in his right he 
strove to pierce its scales nearest the heart. The 
dragon soon awoke, and showed his unwieldy 
strength, and though they tried to keep him 
down, he often had them all up in the air at once ; 
but after a sharp struggle they mastered their foe, 
and that danger was over, — but how were they to 
get out of the pit ? This came by St. Olaf 's help. 
In the dead of night a widow passing by heard 
their voices, pitied them, and sent her servants 
with a rope, who drew them up out of their 
ghastly prison. Now Harold hastened to the 
quarters of the Varangians, where his old friends 
rallied round him. They broke into Maria's 
chamber, carried her off, made for the Golden 
Horn, seized two galleys, and rowed for the 
Bosporus ; but an iron chain barred their pas- 


sage. By Harold's order all the crew in both 
galleys crowded aft into the stern, and thus with 
stems high out of the water, and sterns well 
down, they pulled for the chain with all their 
strength. As soon as the stem ran well up over 
the chain, every man was to rush forward, and 
down would go the galley by the head, then 
another strong pull would perhaps clear the 
chain. Harold's own vessel stood the proof, 
and glode safely over the obstacle ; the other 
hung on the chain, heeled over and foundered, 
many of her gallant crew perishing with her, 
though some were saved by Harold's ship. But 
at any rate he was free. So he sailed with his 
men from Micklegarth into the Black Sea, and 
so into the Sea of Azoff, shaping his course for 
the Don ; but on the shores of the Bosporus he 
put Maria on shore, and sent her back to the 
city under a safeguard, bidding her greet Zoe, 
and ask who had the best of their feud, and 
whether he could not have carried Maria off 
altogether, had that been his will. 

Such is the wild story of the oldest Sagas, 
and though the tale is told in various ways in 
other sources, there is no doubt that it is in the 
main true. William of Malmesbury, who wrote 
about half a century after Harold's death, told 
how he had been thrown into prison, and cast to 
a roaring lion, but that alone and weaponless he 


had slain the beast by the force of his arm, and 
William had probably heard the story from 
English Varangians. Saxo too had heard how 
he had been thrown into a dungeon where a 
dragon was, and had slain the monster, aided 
by one trusty follower and using only a knife, and 
that the Emperor, astounded at the daring of the 
bold Varangian, had granted his life, and given 
him a ship in which to return to his native land. 
Saxo adds that King Waldemar of Denmark 
still had the knife, which Harold had himself 
given to Waldemar's grandmother. Nor, as we 
know from the custom of the age, was it at all 
uncommon for kings to keep savage beasts of 
strange shapes and kinds in pits and dungeons, 
and still less was there aught in the feeling of 
the time against throwing captives into their 
dens. This, at least, was a practice well known 
to the Emperors of the East, who had received 
it as a legacy from imperial Rome. All diffi- 
culty as to the fact will disappear, if, with 
Munch, we suppose the dragon to have been 
a crocodile, to which creature the description 
of the Saga exactly fits. It is another question 
whether his captivity was not of much longer 
duration than that given in the story. It is very 
likely indeed that he, as a Russian, or a friend of 
Russians, was thrown into prison when the war 
broke out in 1043, and that he lay there for 


nearly a year, when he succeeded injnaking his 
escape with his friends during a popular out- 
break, which happened March 7, 1044, when the 
people rose against Constantine Monomachos, 
whom the lively Zoe had recalled from banish- 
ment in June, 1042, on the second Michael's fall, 
and made Emperor after marrying him. His 
dissolute and shameless life caused this out- 
break, and it would have gone as hard with 
him as with Michael, had not both Zoe and 
Theodora joined in entreating the populace to 
have mercy on the offender. But however this 
may have been, in 1044 Harold left Constan- 
tinople by sea, with a band of followers, — and 
his twelve years' visit to the East was over. 

So in the service of three Emperors, and 
having three times " swept " or " scoured " their 
palace, he had won good store of gold and fame, 
and now made his way to Jaroslav, in whose 
keeping his treasures in great part already 
were. His way lay not up the Dnieper, but 
by " Elipalt," or the Sea of Azoff, up the Don ; 
and, as his galley sped merrily over the waters, 
he sang of all his doughty deeds, — how he had 
stood by his brother against the men of Dron- 
theim ; how he had made the dark snake fly 
over the Sicilian waves. " Nine feats are mine 
— I can work in wood and metals, ride, swim, 
glide on snowshoon, throw the spear, shoot 


shafts, play on the harp, and write verses." 
There were sixteen of these songs, each of which 
ended with the same refrain — 

" And yet at me the Russian maid 
With golden necklace looks askance." 

But this was only a little affectation, or, at most, 
an idle fear ; for, almost as soon as he came, 
Jaroslav kept his word, and Elizabeth became 
Harold's wife. He was then about twenty-nine. 
But he had as yet only won his wealth, his 
land was yet to win. Let us now return to 
Magnus. For the first year the boy on whom 
the hopes of the nation were set, grew up quietly 
under the guardianship of the chiefs to whom 
Jaroslav had intrusted him. Many things were 
favourable to his success ; first, the feeling of 
his people, who were tired of a foreign yoke ; 
then the contentment of the chiefs, who were 
willing enough to reign in the name of the boy ; 
and though last not least, the weakness of his 
enemies. Sweyn, the son of Canute, who was 
his father's regent in Norway, had fled, as we 
have seen, with his hated mother to Denmark, 
and had yielded the kingdom to Magnus with- 
out a blow. When Old Canute heard of it he 
threatened war, but he was in England with 
his hands full, waiting for an attack from the 
Normans ; besides, he was stricken with a worse 


enemy, death, which took him off, November 12, 
1035. With him the Danish plans of vengeance 
for a time slumbered. Sweyn, whose personal 
interest was most engaged, died in less than half a 
year after his father, and Hardicanute, or Canute 
of Hordaland, who had been at first unwilling, 
from jealousy, to assist his brother to recover 
Norway, was now forced to turn his eyes to 
England, where a dangerous rival to his claim 
to that crown had sprung up, on Canute's death, 
in Harold Harefoot, Sweyn's brother by Alfiva. 
Canute himself had settled it, as he thought, that 
Hardicanute, his only son by Emma, and his 
only legitimate heir, should inherit both Den- 
mark and England. But Hardicanute was in 
Denmark, and Harold in England, where, be- 
sides his father's body-guard, and that veteran 
Danish militia, the famous " Thingmannalid," 
a sort of native Varangians, whom the Danish 
princes kept to overawe the Anglo-Saxon part 
of the population, and whose goodwill he had 
secured, the pretender was strong in his Saxon 
mother's kinsfolk. So, after a short struggle, 
in which some were for Edward, Ethelred's son 
by Emma, and some for Hardicanute, Canute's 
son by Emma, most, and those by far the 
strongest party, were for Harold Harefoot, who 
thus kept the crown. But Hardicanute only 
waited till he could reach England, when he 


thought he would easily chase his rival from the 
throne, and for that reason was eager to make 
the best terms he could with Magnus and his 
council, in order that his forces might be free 
for England. After some preliminaries, a meet- 
ing took place between the two young kings at 
the Burntislands (Brennoerne), off the mouth 
of the Gottenburg River, and there, 1038, with 
solemn oaths, they agreed that, in case either 
of them died without a son, the survivor should 
inherit his kingdom, and thus, in such a case, 
both crowns would encircle the same head. 
This was a memorable event for the North and 
for Norway, for by it, the royal race of Ragnar 
Lodbrok, which reigned in Denmark, and the 
heir of that mighty old Canute,* the fame of 
whose conquests had filled the world, acknow- 
ledged the upstart race of the Ynglings in 
Norway as equals and compeers. The other 
branch of Ragnar's stock, which ruled in 
Sweden, had already acknowledged St. Olaf, 
and now the Danish branch admitted the right 
of his son. Thus Magnus, in the beams of his 
father's holiness, stepped at once into the posi- 
tion of the great Canute's reversionary heir, not 
only as regarded Denmark, but all his conquests, 

* Old Canute, " Knutr Gamli," or " Krmtr hinn gamli," as he 
was called also over the North with a kind of fond pride, as having 
done so much. 


and Hardicanute's life alone lay between him 
and a mighty empire. Neither Magnus nor his 
council seem to have thought of the tall youth 
who fought with St. Olaf at Sticklestad, who 
longed " to trounce the boors," who came sorely 
wounded out of the fight, fled to Russia, lin- 
gered a year or so with Jaroslav, and had then 
been lost to sight and quite forgotten. 

Though Magnus was but a child when he re- 
turned to Norway, he early showed that he was 
no child in the hands of his council. His was 
one of those rare cases of early development 
where body and mind both grow in just propor- 
tion, and the child is scarce a boy before he is a 
man, both in strength and thought. Such in- 
stances were often met with in the North, and 
there can be no doubt that Magnus was one of 
them. He was fair of hue and straight-featured, 
and his light-brown locks fell thick and long. 
His father had been a strong and handsome 
man, but the son was stronger and handsomer. 
The Saint's figure was too full, and his stature 
rather short and thickset ; but the son's was a 
very model of manly beauty — neither too tall 
nor too short, neither too thin nor too stout, of 
perfect strength and symmetry, and altogether 
without blot or blemish ; so that the prying eyes 
of a bold Icelander, who made the young king strip 
to see what he was like, and how he was made, 


was bound to own that mortal eyes had never 
rested on so fair a face or so manly a form, 
save in one little thing, that one of his eyebrows 
was set a little higher up on his forehead than 
the other. It had been expressly stipulated, 
when the chiefs brought him back, that all the 
unlawful rules and prohibitions brought in by 
the Danes, which interfered with the Norwegian 
freeman's rights, should be done away ; and 
even in other respects a perfect amnesty was 
needed, for there was hardly a man of any mark, 
except Olaf's kindred and personal friends, who 
had not stood against the Saint at Sticklestad. 
And yet the earlier years of the young king's 
rule after the Treaty of Burntislands were 
marked by much severity. The worst foes of 
his father, and the worst foes of every Norwegian 
king, had been the unruly men about Drontheim, 
who looked on themselves as the backbone of 
the country, and against them the king's anger 
was naturally turned. Of all those who had 
worked his father's fall, none had been more 
active than Kalf, Ami's son, the great chief who 
lived at Egg or Edge, in the Drontheim district. 
Though more than one of his brothers had gone 
into exile with King Olaf, and came back to 
fight with him at Sticklestad, Kalf, the head of 
the house, remained at Egg, under the rule of 
Sweyn. Kalf was the soul of the rebellion ; 



Kalf had exhorted them when wavering, and led 
them on to the fight; and to Kalf, deed of 
shame ! some men said, was reckoned an axe- 
wound on the body of the Saint. It was true 
that he had soon repented him of his wickedness, 
and gone, with the other great chiefs, to Russia. 
Kalf had been chosen by name, with one other 
great chief, as those from whom King Jaroslav 
took an oath that they would stand by the boy 
as his councillors and foster-fathers. That 
other chief was the wily Einar, known by the 
name of Thambarskelfir, or Paunch-shaker.* 
With great foresight he had kept away from 
Norway during the whole series of events which 
ended at Sticklestad, and he was never tired, 
after Magnus came back, of telling his foster-son 
that he at least had no hand in the murder of 
the Saint. When one foster-father spoke thus 
with no very hidden hint at the part which the 
other had taken, the seed sown was likely soon 
to bear fruit ; and though Magnus was hard 
upon the men of Drontheim, he was hardest of 
all upon Kalf, whose character, much more open 
than that of Einar, could ill brook reproaches ; 
the less so as he had always fulfilled his oath, 
and stood by his foster-child. So it fell once 
that the young king was at a feast with his fol- 

* In vulgar English he would have been called " Tunbelly," or 
some such nickname, from the size of his paunch. 


lowers at Haug in Veradale, the very next farm 
to Sticklestad, which was owned by a farmer 
who had fought for the king, and given shelter 
and burial to his body. This farmer had a boon 
to beg of his sovereign, but Magnus was busy 
and would not listen. At last Thorgeir, the 
farmer, sung out — 

" Now, list to my making, 
Magnus, my King, 
For after with thy father 
I followed the fight : 
So down on my pate then 
Blow pattered on blow, 
While those yonder slew him 
In vengeance and wrath. 
But thou alone carest 
For caitiff's like these, 
Who murdered their liege lord 
While devils laughed aloud." 

It need not be said that the king listened after 
this, nor was he slow to discover the " caitiffs " 
at whom the verses pointed. At that very feast 
the young king said as he sat at meat with both 
his foster-fathers, " We will go to-day to Stickle- 
stad and see the tokens that are left of those 
tidings which happened there." Einar answered, 
" Lord, I know little to tell about them, for I was 
not near there. Let Kalf ride with you ; he will 
be able to tell you plainly about everything/' 
Then the King said to Kalf, " Thou shalt fare with 
us to Sticklestad, and tell us the whole story of 
what befell there." Then Kalf answered, "You 


must have your way, Lord ; but I bode no good 
from it for myself ; and I think it would be more 
fitting as to those tidings if they were not 
brought to life again by telling, and 'twould be 
better that you should put trust in those who are 
now your firm friends in all duty and faithfulness 
to youward, rather than to fall out with them 
and overbear them/' "Thou shalt go, Kalf," 
said the king. Then Kalf said stealthily to his 
waiting-man, " Now thou shalt go as speedily as 
thou canst out to my house at Edge, and bid my 
men make ready my longship so fast that they 
have every stick and store aboard by night." 
But when Magnus and Kalf came to Sticklestad, 
and where the battle had been, the king said to 
Kalf, "Where fell King Olaf, my father?" 
Kalf stretched out the shaft of his spear, and 
said, "There he lay." The king asked, "Where 
wert thou?" "Here, where I now stand," 
answered Kalf. "Then," said the king, "thy 
axe might have reached him;" and the king's 
visage was very red. "My axe did not reach 
him," said Kalf; and with that he leapt on his 
horse and rode away. So the king turned back 
to Haug with his men, but Kalf fared home to 
Edge, and got on board his ship which was 
" boun " for sea, and out along the firth he stood, 
and so west across the main to the Orkneys ; and 
he and King Magnus never saw each other again. 
VOL. 11. O 


So Einar and his party got rid of Kalf ; but 
the king's thirst for vengeance and his ill-will to 
the enemies of his father were so great, that he 
grew harder and harder against them ; and at 
last he was so bitter against the Drontheimers 
that his best friends were alarmed, lest those 
sturdy yeomen should rise and throw off the 
young king's yoke. Meetings were held, and 
the discontent was spreading, but none dared to 
broach the matter to Magnus : at last his friends 
cast lots, and the lot fell on Sighvat Skald to bell 
the cat. Nor could it have fallen on one more 
fitted for the dangerous task; for Sighvat had 
been St. Olaf's favourite skald, and a pilgrimage 
to Rome had been the only reason why he had 
not fallen with all the king's other skalds in the 
battle. His genius was equal to the need. In a 
lofty strain, a precious string of pearls of song, 
the so-called Bersoglisvisur, or " Freespeaking 
Songs," the faithful skald reminded Magnus of 
his plighted word, of his forefathers' reverence 
for the laws, reproached him for his hardness, 
held up to him his bounden duty, and warned 
him of the evil to come. It was his own faith- 
fulness and position, he said, which gave him 
the right to use such words to such a master. 
Many snatches have come down to us of this 
famous outspoken piece of poetry. It is hard to 
say whether it does more honour to the skald 


who could thus speak, or to the king who could 
bear to hear such wholesome words. 

But Magnus was wise in time. He heard the 
songs out, laid them to heart, and called a Thing, 
or assembly of freemen, to discuss the matter. 
In the king's first speech at this meeting, he 
still spoke rather harshly against those who he 
thought deserved it, and even threatened the 
freemen as a body. Then a freeman named 
Atli rose and said, with Spartan brevity and 
force, "My shoon pinch me so, I can't stir a 
step/' After that he sat down without another 
word. The Thing broke up for that day; but 
the king and his council laid these words to 
heart, and next morning when they met again, 
the king spoke kindly to all ; and the freemen 
said that God had changed his heart, so that his 
old hardness had turned to mildness and for- 
bearance. Whether this change were the result 
of policy or conviction, certain it is that from 
that day forth nothing more is heard of Magnus 
as a hard unyielding prince, but rather as a 
mild and merciful ruler, whose memory was en- 
shrined in the hearts of his nation as Magnus the 

But while these things were happening in 
Norway, the old house of Ragnar Lodbrog in 
Denmark was tottering to its fall. After the 
treaty at the Burntislands> Hardicanute had 


called out his fleet, and sailed for Flanders, 
where at Bruges he found his mother Emma. 
Thence he was about to cross over to England, 
to fight it out with his brother, Harold Harefoot, 
when he heard the welcome news that Harold 
had died suddenly at Oxford on the 17th of 
March, 1040. He hastened to England, and was 
at once received as king. Under him and 
Emma the Anglo-Saxons had as hard a time as 
the Norwegians under Sweyn and Alfiva. Hardi- 
canute had all the strength of Canute without 
any of his wisdom. He lived in drunkenness 
and debauchery, and made his English subjects 
pay heavily for his Danish followers, whose inso- 
lence and unruliness passed all bounds ; and so 
there sprung up into full life that undying love 
of a king of their own race, which lies deep in 
the heart of every nation, however trodden down. 
And there, at Hardicanute's Court, the subject 
race saw in Edward, Hardicanute's half-brother 
on the mother's side, Emma's son by Ethelred 
the Unready, the heir of the great West-Saxon 
line of kings. True it was that by the Treaty of 
the Burntislands, England as well as Denmark 
was to fall to Magnus, should Hardicanute die 
without a male heir. Nor was there an heir for 
England alone ; for there at the same time, in 
Hardicanute's following, was a pretender to 
Denmark, Sweyn, Ulf s son, Canute's nephew by 


his sister Astrida, a man of large lands and 
many friends both in Denmark and Sweden, in 
which latter country he had lived for twelve 
years in exile, and where he found a firm friend 
in his kinsman Aunund, the Swedish king. So 
things stood when that happened which all who 
knew Hardicanute's way of life must have known 
might come at any moment. He died, beaker 
in hand, at a drinking-bout at Lambeth, over 
against that Thorney Island where, in a few 
years after, rose that splendid minster of the 
West from which a city took its name. This was 
on the 8th of June, 1042, and now the race of 
Ragnar had died out, and Magnus was heir to 
all the kingdoms of the mighty Canute. The 
news came to him as he sat at meat with his 
Court about him. " God knows, and King Olaf 
the Saint, knows, that I will die or lay under my 
feet the whole Danish realm." He lost no time. 
His fleet lay near, at the very verge of his king- 
dom. He steered for Jutland in his father s ship, 
the gallant Bison. There at the bow gleamed 
and glittered the gilded head of the mighty 
monarch of the wood, which the Saint himself 
had carved. Stem and stern and vanes shone 
bright with gold. There was no rival to contest 
his claim ; the Danish chiefs had sworn to keep 
the treaty ; and so there at Viborg, at the great 
Assembly of the Danes, Magnus was solemnly 


chosen king. He granted gifts and fiefs, set up 
officers and authorities in his name, and went 
back to his kingdom, believing that he had firmly 
founded a new dynasty in a land which, but a 
little time before, would scarce allow that Nor- 
way was worthy of a dynasty of her own, or even 
of a separate existence. 

But England also fell to Magnus under the 
Treaty. The Anglo-Saxons knew nothing of it. 
Edward the son of Ethelred, backed by Emma, 
would not listen to it, and he had been at once 
raised to the throne with one voice as soon as 
Hardicanute's drunken death was known. With 
that ended the rule of the Danes in England. 
But Magnus did not give up his claim. As soon 
as his Danish election was over, he sent an em- 
bassy to Edward with a letter, in which he bade 
Edward yield to him as Hardicanute's rightful 
heir, to give up the crown, or else try the fortune 
of war. According to the Sagas, Edward wrote 
a memorable letter in return. Thus it ran : — 
" 'Tis known to all men here in this land, that 
when I was a child I lost my father, Ethelred, 
who was rightful heir to this realm by every law 
both old and new. But for the sake of my youth 
my brother Edmund took the kingdom before me, 
according to all that I know of law and right in 
this land, because he was the elder of us twain. 
Very soon after that came Old Canute into the 


land with the Danish host, and fought with us for 
our heritage ; and so it came about that he became 
King in England along with my brother Edmund, 
but after no long time Edmund got his death, and 
then King Canute, my stepfather, took the whole 
realm under himself. And though I was the son 
of King Ethelred and Queen Emma, still was 
I without rank or honour. Then help was offered 
me to win back my land ; but I thought rather 
that God's mercy would give me back the realm 
when I was fit for it, and so I would not waste 
the souls or bodies of Christian men for that end. 
Then time went by, and Canute's power in this 
world passed away, and after his end, his sons 
came to be chosen kings, first Harold, and I was 
still without rank or honour as before, and reft 
of all the property of our forefathers, but I was 
content so long as God willed it that he should 
have the realm. And no long time passed ere 
Harold died. Then Hardicanute was taken to 
be king, another son of Old Canute, and my 
brother by the mother's side. He was king over 
the Danish realm, but he thought himself not so 
great a man as he would be till he was made 
king over both Denmark and England, and that 
claim was thought to be a fair sharing of 
brother's heritage between him and me. And so 
it was now the fourth time that a king had been 
chosen in England, and all the while I had no 


title save that of a swain of noble birth, and yet 
no man can say that I served King Hardicanute, 
my brother, worse or more haughtily than those 
men who were of little birth on both sides of 
their house. A little after Hardicanute, my 
brother, died, and then it was the counsel of all 
my countrymen to take me for their king, and I 
was enthroned and hallowed with the hallowing 
of a king, and then at my coronation I took an 
oath to keep God's law, and the law of the land, 
and to die for law and right, rather than bear the 
pride and wrongdoing of wicked men. And so 
now I am set over the land on behalf of God and 
the law of the land, to judge every man accord- 
ing to right, and to put down strife. And now, 
King Magnus, for that thou wilt take this land 
from me which is my land of heritage, and for that 
thou thinkest thy realm not wide enough, though 
thou reignest alone over Norway, thy father's 
heritage, and hast now taken Denmark for thine 
own, but yet covetest my realm also, and comest 
hither to fall on me with a host — Well ! in that 
case it is likely that I will gather no force 
against thee, and yet for all that thou wilt not 
be called a King here in England, and thou wilt 
have no homage here till thou hast hewn off my 
head." Such was the meek answer which the 
lowly-minded Edward is said to have sent back : 
meek and yet full of spirit, bearing a genuine 


stamp, and bright with all the long-suffering of 
the Confessor. 

We are told that Magnus, himself a man of 
gentle and generous heart, and the son of a 
saint, was so touched with the simple story of 
Edward's wrongs, that he gave up his plans of 
conquest, and reserved his right, letting it slumber 
so long as the man of many sorrows lived. It 
may have been so perhaps, and such a letter 
must have seemed a marvel of meekness in that 
age of blows and blood-feuds ; but other stories 
tell how Magnus threatened Edward with war, 
and how Edward held a fleet ready for sea at 
Sandwich,* then the great arsenal of the kingdom 
in the South. But the war-cloud went over 
without bursting on England, for Magnus had 
now another enemy on his hands. 

We have already heard of Sweyn, Ulf s son, as 
one of Hardicanute's Court. We must now speak 
more of him. This man had many kingly quali- 
ties ; he was easy-tempered and gracious, liberal 
and hospitable, of fine presence, well skilled in 
all the feats that became a warrior, and besides 
wise and full of forethought. But in early life, 
at least, he was given to pleasure, the slave of 
his passions, and in his dealings with men in 
matters of State he lacked that openness and 

* Saxon Chron. under the year 1046. According to Florence of 
Worcester in 1045. 


straightforwardness which more than aught else 
if linked with wisdom, wins men's hearts and 
trust. He had claims to the throne of Denmark 
as the great Canute's nephew, and had he been 
on the spot, the weight given him by his great 
possessions and powerful friends both in Sweden 
and Denmark, might have snatched the crown 
from Magnus, in spite of the treaty with Hardi- 
canute. But Sweyn was away, and Magnus be- 
sides his right of treaty was on the spot, and we 
have seen how easily Denmark fell into his lap ; 
but though lightly won, she was hard to hold, 
and Sweyn, when he found that Magnus had 
been already chosen, resolved to steal by cunning 
what he despaired of seizing by open force. He 
went, therefore, boldly to Magnus after he had 
received the homage of the Danes, and employed 
all his arts and all the graces of his mind and 
body to win his trust and favour. At last he 
asked him for a fief in Denmark, that he might 
prove himself a faithful friend. The young king, 
without the advice of his council, listened to 
Sweyn' s wily words, and took his oath of fealty 
and homage there and then. So it fell on a day 
as they sat a-drinking, the king declared his pur- 
pose of giving Sweyn a fief in Denmark, and the 
title of Earl, and with that he handed him a 
splendid purple cloak, and bade his cup-bearer 
pour out a beaker of mead, to drink in token of 


the gift. Sweyn took the cloak, but even when 
his schemes were crowned with success, he could 
not conceal the dislike he felt at becoming the 
vassal of Magnus, and blushing red, either with 
shame or rage, he gave the gorgeous garment to 
a bystander, and threw over his own shoulders a 
grey cape of common fur. The king took no 
notice of the way in which the gift was slighted, 
but the far-sighted Einar saw what passed, and 
angrily muttered, "Too great an earl, foster- 
child, too great an earl." * The king was angry 
too, and answered, " Ye think I have no sense or 
judgment, but I cannot see why some are too 
great earls for you, and some not men enough." 
So after the feast was over, a reliquary was 
brought, and on it Sweyn swore solemnly, as 
Harold Godwin's son is said to have sworn to 
William the Norman, " to be ever true to King 
Magnus, ever to add to, and never to lessen his 
realm, and in all things to be submissive to him 
so long as they both lived," — a strong oath in 
those days, when perjury weighed heavy on the 
consciences of men. When the oath was taken, 
the king took a sword and girt him with it, hung 
a shield round his neck, and set a helm on his 
head, and called him " Earl." Then he gave him 
the same fiefs in Denmark which his father held 
before him, but which he had lost by his unruli- 

* Ofjarl, ofjarl, fostri ! — Magniisar Godar Saga, chap, xxvii. 


ness. At the same time he bade him go and 
guard Jutland, a border-land exposed to constant 
attacks from Wends and Saxons. Magnus then 
went with his vassal to Denmark, installed him 
in his post, and then went back to Norway, in 
the hope that he had added another prop to his 
dynasty. But the false Sweyn was no sooner 
left to himself, than he plotted against Magnus, 
gave himself out as the leader of the national 
party, raised the cry of "Denmark for the 
Danes!" and early in the year 1043, before 
Magnus had been king a year, called another 
assembly of the nation, and got himself pro- 
claimed King of Denmark. Magnus, when he 
saw himself betrayed, and that Einar's forebod- 
ings were true, called out half the force of his 
kingdom, and sailed with a great fleet to chastise 
the rebel earl. Sweyn, who saw that he could 
not meet such a force, fled before it to his friend, 
King Aunund, in Sweden, where he waited his 
time, and ever and again for the next two years 
was a thorn in the side of Magnus. For then it 
was that Magnus had his hands full of the Wen- 
dish wars, which the traitor, Sweyn, had a great 
hand in bringing on his native land. That still 
heathen race, on hearing of the strife between 
the king and his earl, invaded Denmark, where 
Magnus met them at a heath near Slesvig, and 
overthrew them in a bloody battle, in which he, 


armed with his father's axe " Hell/' showed him- 
self a worthy son of such a sire. For a mile's 
space the bodies of the slain lay piled in heaps, 
and the watercourses were choked with dead. 
The Wends who escaped said with one voice, that 
if all the Norwegians had fought as that young 
man in the silken shirt, none would have come 
back alive. No wonder, after such a victory, 
won too against such odds, the story ran that 
Saint Olaf had stood by his son in the fight 
against the heathen, and helped him to win the 

Though the Wends were worsted, the strife 
with Sweyn still lasted. Over and over again 
Magnus chased him from the field, followed him 
from island to island, and gave him no rest by 
sea or land. Sweyn, strong in the support of 
his friends, only vanished from one part of Den- 
mark to show himself in another ; and so things 
went on till the winter between 1044-45, which 
Magnus spent in Denmark, in the hope of 
strengthening his hold on the kingdom, where 
Sweyn was now thoroughly beaten, and again 
forced to fly to Sweden. Magnus was now in 
his twenty-first year, widely famed through all 
the North for his generosity and power : the 
darling of his people, who had forgotten the 
harshness of the boy, so that the name of 
Magnus the Good was beloved over the whole 


North. Even the Danes looked up to him as 
the conqueror of their foes, his own people saw- 
in him a wisdom beyond his years, and though 
he listened with respect to the counsels of old 
friends of his father's, like Sigurd the Skald, or 
Einar, he was anything but a blind tool in their 
hands, and with all his easiness and gentleness, 
had a warm temper and a strong will of his own, 
as we shall shortly see. But just as Sweyn 
seemed utterly routed, and Denmark was again, 
as he thought, his own, a new foe stepped on the 
scene, and that one of the worst a man can have, 
a rival out of his own house. 

When Harold Sigurdson had spent a year at 
Jaroslav's Court, he said he would go and ask 
his kinsman Magnus to give him a bit of land 
to rule over, as he had two kingdoms of his own. 
Jaroslav was willing, only he and Ingigerda 
besought their son-in-law to treat Magnus with 
all gentleness, and to stand by him in word and 
deed. Though not his own mother, Ingigerda 
loved him with a mother's love. So Harold 
took ship at Aldeigjaborg, steered for Sweden, 
ran up the Malar Lake, and landed at Sigtuna, 
the ancient capital of the kingdom. Here he 
met Sweyn, Ulf's son, who was an exile with his 
kinsman Aunund, and who at once proposed 
that they should make common cause against 
Magnus. But the wary Harold said that he 


could give no answer till he had seen Magnus. 
He set sail, therefore, for Denmark, and there in 
the Sound he found Magnus lying with his fleet. 
We may be sure that fleet reckoned many a 
goodly ship, but none so gallant as that of the 
new-comer. It was painted above-board down 
to the water's edge, stem and stern were richly 
gilt, and at the prow a dragon grinned and 
gaped. The sails were of costly stuff, sewed 
double, with the right side out both fore and aft, 
and one and all said no ship had ever been seen 
in the North more studded with gold and gems 
than this. The stranger, as she bore boldly on, 
challenged all eyes, and Magnus at once sent a 
ship to meet her, to ask whence she came, and 
what was her errand. Over the bulwarks of the 
proud war-ship bent a tall man, of courtly man- 
ners. He said he had been sent by Harold 
Sigurdson, the king's uncle, to ask how King 
Magnus would welcome him. Their kinship 
alone, and gratitude for the sacrifices which 
Harold had made for the king's father, ought to 
insure him a hearty greeting ; but, besides, it 
was the king's own interest to treat him well, 
for Harold was a wise and well-skilled warrior, 
and had, besides, great store of wealth. When 
the messenger went back, Magnus at once said 
his uncle was right welcome, the more so as he 
had every ground to look for help and aid from 


so near a kinsman. So the stranger steered 
nearer to the king's fleet, and then it turned out 
that the tall man was no other than Harold him- 
self. The uncle and nephew met with the 
greatest love. In a day or two they began to 
talk of business, and Magnus himself said he 
wished Harold would help him to strengthen his 
power in Denmark. To which Harold answered, 
that he first would like to know if Magnus was 
ready to recognise his hereditary right to a share 
of Norway, and, in fact, to halve the kingdom 
with him. Magnus answered mildly and wisely, 
that he would be guided entirely by his council 
and the wishes of his people. So the matter 
was laid before the chiefs ; and then Einar rose 
and said, if Magnus were to share his realm, 
fairness demanded that Harold should halve the 
wealth which he had brought home with the 
king, as Magnus, after his wars, stood much in 
need of money. But Harold said, he had not 
gone through so many trials and dangers abroad 
in amassing wealth to share it amongst his 
nephew's men. "Thou, Harold," answered 
Einar, " wast long abroad when we won back 
the land from Canute and his crew, and we have 
no wish to be split between two leaders. Up to 
this time we have only had one king at a time, 
and so it shall still be, so long as King Magnus 
lives and reigns. I will do all I can to hinder 


thee from having any share in the kingdom/* 
The rest of the council were of like mind. They 
would have but one king in Norway. Harold 
went back at once to Sweden, met Sweyn, and 
entered into alliance with him, by which they 
were each to stand by the other till they had re_ 
gained their hereditary dominions. They soon 
gathered a great force, for Sweyn had many 
friends in Sweden. Harold's fame as a warrior 
was widely spread, and he, too, had kinsfolk in 
the land, but Sweyn was looked on as the leader, 
and Denmark was first to be won. And now it 
was that Harold in all likelihood acknowledged 
Sweyn as his liege lord, much in the same way 
as Sweyn had done homage and fealty to 
Magnus. It was his policy to do so, and Harold 
was too worldly-wise to care either about taking 
or breaking an oath if it suited his interest. 
Meantime Magnus had gone back to Norway, 
little thinking that his uncle would ally himself 
to his Danish foe. Perhaps he and his council 
looked upon Harold in the light of one of those 
well-born rovers whose home was more on sea 
than on land, who flitted from shore to shore and 
sea to sea, settling down nowhere, and at last 
perished either on some far foreign coast, or 
merged beneath the billows, which were at once 
their playground and their grave. They had re- 
fused to listen to his claim ; he had gone away 
VOL. II. p 


in a huff, with the world before him ; they would 
hear no more of him. Besides, Sweyn was an 
outlaw, and Denmark seemed happy under her 
new lord. Why need Magnus care ? But early 
next spring, the spring of 1046, they heard 
another tale. Sweyn and Harold were already 
with their fleet in the Danish waters, the rule of 
Magnus was set at naught, his friends were 
spoiled, and the coasts of Zealand and Funen 
fiercely harried. Sweyn was taking vengeance 
on the Danes who had deserted him, and been 
true to Magnus ; and Harold, fresh from the 
rapine of the East, backed him with a will. So 
Magnus called out his fleet again, and came 
South with a great host. Now they heard more 
of Harold. That he was taller and stronger 
than other men they knew already, but now they 
heard that he was so wise and foresighted, that 
he could win his way out of every strait. Vic- 
tory always followed him with whomsoever he 
might fight, and his wealth was so great that no 
man could count his gold by the pound. But 
Magnus was not the man to show the white 
feather ; he held on to meet the foe and punish 
Sweyn. And now Harold indeed showed his fore- 
sight and his guile. No sooner was Magnus well 
in the Danish waters, seeking for Sweyn, than 
Harold, instead of doing battle with him, gave 
him the slip, and leaving Sweyn in the lurch, fled 


from Denmark, and steered for Norway ; so that 
when Magnus was looking for him in the South, 
he was already far above him in the North. In 
aftertimes, indeed, Harold gave, it out that 
Sweyn and not he had been the traitor. He had 
proved it, he said, as they lay together with 
their fleets, for he thought that Sweyn meant to 
take his life, and so he laid a tree-stump in his 
bed, and slept elsewhere ; and lo ! at dead of 
night, there came a man, rowing in a boat with 
muffled oars, and that man stole into the cabin, 
and with an axe dealt the stump a blow, so that 
the axe stood fast in the wood ; and then he fled, 
leaving his axe behind him, and was lost in the 
darkness of the night. Next day he told his 
men, and took witness of the treachery of his 
ally. That was Harold's story, but Sweyn, as 
soon as he heard it, denied the dark deed, and 
declared it was a wicked lie of Harold to hide 
his own treachery in leaving his lord and master 
to fight the battle alone. However that might 
be, there Harold sailed along the shores of his 
native land, and his galleys, as they gleamed 
over the waves in all the glory of gold and 
colour, were a sight long remembered. He first 
shaped his course for " the Uplands," the central 
southern district, where his father had been a 
petty king in Ringarike, and where his kinsmen 
still dwelt. He had two brothers, but as we 


hear nothing of them except their names, Guth- 
rum and Halfdan, we may suppose they were 
dead, or at least faint-hearted. But a kinsman 
is not always a welcome guest, least of all when 
he comes with ugly claims on goods and land, 
to turn out those who have long looked on him 
as dead and gone, and themselves as his heirs. 
Besides, there was an old law or custom in the 
North which said, " The man who takes up his 
abode in Greece loses all right of heritage at 
home." So Harold's friends and kinsmen gave 
him a cold welcome ; they would not so much as 
allow his claim to his own paternal property, 
much less acknowledge him as the rival of 
Magnus the Good. So he turned from the Up- 
lands and Ringarike to Gudbrandsdale — where 
Sinclair and his Scots fell in the seventeenth 
century — and there he was lucky enough to find 
a friend in Thorir of Steig, or Step-Thorir, a 
mighty chief and a kinsman, a man of unsettled 
fickle temper, who, fond of change, was ever 
ready to hail a new state of things, and at once 
gave Harold the title of. " king ; " and so he went 
about "the Uplands/' gathering force as he went, 
and in a little while the boors and freemen, follow- 
ing Thorir's example, began to call him " king." 
Though Harold no doubt behaved badly to 
wSweyn, yet he really did him great service by 
his flight. At any time, and most of all in those 


days, it was dangerous to leave a rival at home 
for the sake of warring in a strange land. The 
strategy and constancy of Hannibal had no fol- 
lowers in the North, and therefore Magnus, as 
soon as he heard that Harold had outwitted both 
his ally and himself, hastened back to Norway to 
check his uncle in his schemes. Landing in 
"the Bay," or the Cattegat, he heard that 
Harold was coming down from the Uplands, 
and turned up the country to meet him on the 
way. Had Magnus been in the land when 
Harold came, he might have quenched in his 
blood the flame he tried to kindle, but by 
this time it was too late to stay him save by 
a long and bloody struggle. So Magnus, with 
the advice of his council, sent messengers to 
meet his uncle, and ask him to have a meeting 
and settle their differences in a friendly way. 
Had Harold been the headstrong warrior, the 
self-willed man of the sword alone, which some 
had called him, he would have spurned the offer, 
and have bidden his nephew to trust his cause to 
the judgment of the God of Battles. But Harold 
was wise and politic as well as brave, and he 
showed it in nothing more than in his dealing 
with his nephew. Like the famous fetter in the 
legends of his race, which the gods made to bind 
the grisly wolf, he was strong and tough as iron, 
but he could be also as soft and lissom as silk. 


His was the true improved Northern temper, as 
we see it developed in the Norman type — bold 
and yet wary, naturally unbending, and yet ever 
yielding when it was right to yield, the lion's 
hide eked out with the fox's skin ; a temper not 
the most noble or the most open in the world, 
but worth everything in daily life, where com- 
mon sense always wins the day, as lacking it all 
gifts of body and mind are little worth. 

So the uncle and nephew met that summer 
at Acre, on Lake Mjosen, and there Magnus 
gave a great feast to Harold and sixty of his 
men. With Harold came Haldor, Snorri's son, 
and Ulf, Ospak's son, those trusty brothers-in- 
arms, who had been with him in tne dreadful 
pit. There too, no doubt, was Step-Thorir and 
other great chiefs who had left the nephew for 
the uncle. With Magnus were the faithful and 
wary Einar, his huge paunch quaking with 
wrath at Harold's daring, ever ready to put in 
a weighty word for his darling foster-child. But 
though the wills of the two ki«gs went for much, 
the chiefs had also something to say, and that 
was, that they would not suffer two kings at a 
time in Norway, unless they were so bound to- 
gether as to be of one mind and will ; and they 
added outright that whichever of the twain would 
not agree to that, and become the other's firm 
friend, him they would fall on and slay on the 


spot. Against Harold these words were aimed, 
for all knew the mild and friendly nature of 
Magnus. Then the same terms were settled 
which Harold had before scorned. He was to 
have half the kingdom in common tenure with 
Magnus, and Magnus was to have half of 
Harold's treasures. Indeed it was a splendid 
feast, " and the first day as night drew on King 
Magnus went out, and a little after came into 
the tent where Harold and his men sate, and 
men came along with him bearing great burdens 
of weapons and clothes, and so King Magnus 
went to the last man of Harold's company and 
gave him a good sword, and so along the whole 
board, giving to one a shield, to another a cloak, 
or a ring, or a golden piece. To all of them he 
gave some costly thing, to each something that 
suited his degree. Last of all he stood before 
his kinsman Harold, and held out to him two 
fair rushen wands, and said, "Which of these 
wands wilt thou choose, kinsman ? " " That 
which is nearest to me," answered Harold. 
Then King Magnus said, "With this rushen 
wand I give thee half Norway to rule over 
with me, with tax and toll, with skatt and 
skott, and all the rights that thereto belong, on 
this condition that thou beest King in Norway 
with like rights as I have in all places ; but 
when we are both together I shall be first 


and take the lead, in greetings, in seat, in ser- 
vice, and in all other homage. If there be three 
of our rank together at once, I shall sit in the 
middle, I shall have the king's berth for my 
ship, and the king's wharf; thou shalt stay and 
strengthen our realm by so much the more as we 
have made thee that man in Norway whom we 
never thought any could be so long as our head 
was above ground." Then Harold rose and 
thanked him for the honour and favour he had 
shown him, and both sate down, and drank and 
were merry. Next day Magnus let all the people 
know that he had given Harold these gifts, and 
at that meeting Step-Thorir again gave Harold 
the title of King, in token that the freemen so 
willed it. That same day Harold bade Magnus 
to meat, and Magnus went in his turn to Harold's 
tent with sixty men, and there was a great feast 
and much mirth and jollity. And as the day 
wore on King Harold made men bear into the 
tent many great sacks, but before he loosed 
them he took arms and clothes, and those 
goods he shared amongst the men of King 
Magnus. After that he bade men untie the 
mouths of the sacks and said to King Magnus, 
"Yesterday ye gave us a mighty realm which 
ye had won from your foes and ours, and took us 
into fellowship with yourself. That was well 
done, for you had hard work to win it. But now 


on the other hand we have been abroad, and yet 
we have gone through some risks and trials ere 
we got together this gold which you shall now 
see. And now I will throw all this money into 
one common stock with you, and then we will 
own all these goods in halves, share and share 
alike, just as we own the realm, each having 
half. But I know our tempers are unlike. Thou 
art a man much more open-handed than I, and 
therefore we will share this money between us at 
once into equal halves, and then each may deal 
with his share as he pleases." Then Harold 
made them spread out a great bull's hide on the 
ground, and pour all the gold into it out of the 
sacks, and then scales were taken and it was 
weighed, and so all the gold was shared by 
weight. And all men thought it wondrous 
strange that so much gold should have come 
together in the North into one place. But it 
was plain that was the property and wealth of 
the King of the Greeks, for all say that there are 
whole houses full of red gold. All the while 
the kings stood by in great mirth, and as the 
sacks were emptied out there came a stoop as 
big as a man's head, and King Harold caught it 
up and said, "Kinsman Magnus, where is the 
gold that thou hast to set against this knob- 
head?" Then Magnus made answer: "There 
hath been so much strife and so many great 


hosts and levies, that I have already given you 
almost all the gold and silver that I had. For 
now I own no more gold than this ring," and 
with that he took a ring from his arm and gave 
it to King Harold. He said, "This is little 
gold, kinsman, for a king who owns two kings' 
realms, and yet some men may doubt whether 
this ring is thine own or not." Then King 
Magnus answered rather shortly and said, " If I 
own not this ring by right, I know not what 
right I have to anything ; for this ring my father 
King Olaf the Saint gave me when we last 
parted." Then Harold answered with a laugh, 
" Thou speakest sooth, King Magnus, that thy 
father gave thee the ring ; but this ring he took 
from my father for no great matter, and truth to 
say, it was no good time for little kings in Nor- 
way when thy father was at his pitch of power." 
After all this feasting was over, twelve of the 
greatest chiefs on either side took oaths to fulfil 
its conditions, and then the two princes parted 
and each went his way. It is hard to say which 
made most by their bargain ; for if Harold had 
won his way to half a throne, Magnus had also 
gained much, not merely in the great store of 
wealth which his uncle brought him, but also in 
sundering so dangerous a rival from Sweyn's 
side, and making him his ally. Sweyn was 
now again alone, and Harold's gold would fit 


out many a ship. Besides, though Harold was 
bound to win Denmark for Magnus, he was to 
have no share in that realm. For Magnus, and 
for Magnus alone, it was to be won and held. 
All that Magnus now needed was a long life, 
and though it was too late to think of war with 
the traitor that year, the next was to bring ven- 
geance with it. Meantime the two princes spent 
the autumn of the winter in passing from house 
to house in the Uplands and so towards Dron- 
theim, sometimes together and sometimes apart, 
sharing the tolls and taxes and produce of the 
royal farms in common. 

And now, what was a king's life, and what 
were his rights at that time ? In the earliest 
age, the king, though the first in the land, and 
though he was chief priest as well, only differed 
from the rest of the freemen so far as land went, 
in the quantity, but not in the quality of his pos- 
sessions. The freeman's land was as much his 
own as the king's. It was his 63al, that is, it 
was his absolute allodial holding, of which he 
was lord and master, and none else. The 
smallest holder held his little lot of land by 
the same right as the king held his broad 
estates; and though the king had other rights 
and privileges, mostly, perhaps, springing from 
his position as Chief Priest, he could not rob the 
freeman of an inch of land. But when Harold 


Fairhair rose to power, and had settled his 
system, it was not so. With him the king's 
power and position quite changed. He would 
be lord, not over the country alone, but over 
his people. He would brook no equal : all must 
bow before him, fall, or fly the land. As those 
who fled could not carry their land with them 
to Scotland, Iceland, or wherever their bold 
spirit led them, and as those who fell, fell 
often with all their kith and kin, a great part 
of the country came into the king's possession, 
from sheer want of owners and occupiers. Be- 
sides this, he brought in the great feudal prin- 
ciple, that no man had an 6Sal save the king. 
He was the lord paramount, and every man in 
the country, in a greater or less degree, was his 
vassaL So now there were three kinds of land 
in Norway. Firsts the old 63al holdings, whose 
owners had made their peace with the king ; 
who paid a small sum yearly as a kind of quit- 
rent in acknowledgment of his lordship, but who 
were free to deal in other respects with their 
land as they chose, the rent lying, in fact, on the 
land, and not on the owner. The hurt they 
suffered was rather in the principle than in the 
reality. Their feelings as freemen, and not their 
purses, smarted under the king's high hand. 
Secondly, there were the king's fiefs (len), made 
out of the forfeited lands of rebels and outlaws, 


over which he set earls and vassals, jar Is and 
lendirmenn, who had no hereditary right to that 
land, but held it for the king at his good plea- 
sure, on condition of rendering him certain ser- 
vices — the chief of these being, to maintain a 
body of troops, or a ship and her crew, to follow 
the king in war, — quite distinct from the lawful 
levy (leiftangr) which the king could call out from 
the freemen, properly so called — and to enter- 
tain the king and his men once a year at least 
[vetzla], if he chose to come that way. Thirdly, 
there were the king's lands, belonging to the 
Royal House, made out of his own original 
63al ; the land which he held in his quality 
as priest, and any lands otherwise acquired, 
whether it were by forfeiture or purchase, which 
he had not made fiefs of, but kept as it were in 
his own hand. Over these were set stewards 
or bailiffs [drmenn), who were answerable to the 
king as his servants. His usual income other 
than that from his lands consisted of the land- 
tax, which every freeman now had to pay, from 
fines and mulcts, as awards and atonement for 
wrongs done to property and person, and rn 
certain monopolies or royal rights, of which the 
most profitable in all times, and one watched 
with the greatest jealousy, was the right of 
trading with the Finns and Lapps, to the north 
of Helgeland, in the costly furs which those 


nomadic tribes brought in great store, not only 
from their own wastes, but from the heart of 
Russia. So also ownerless goods, and treasure- 
trove, and unclaimed heritages, fell to the king, 
by a custom handed down from the oldest times, 
and generally all over the country he had the 
right of forestalling, or first trading in foreign 
goods, a right which, as it was claimed in- 
variably by the GoSar or priests in Iceland, was 
no doubt a religious privilege enjoyed by the 
kings long before the time of Harold Fairhair. 
Besides, he claimed the right to lay an embargo 
on ships at his own good pleasure. The duty 
of collecting all these dues 'and privileges was 
called " the king's business " {sysld). At first, 
with the exception of the Finnskatt, as the 
Finnish trade was called, it was the part of 
the king's bailiffs [drmenn) to collect them. 
These were often his slaves or freedmen ; but 
the earls and vassals were bound to stand by 
them, and give them help if any resistance was 
made to their demands. We need hardly say, 
that these underlings of the king were long 
looked upon with the greatest hatred by the 
rest of the people, and indeed, at the present 
day, in other countries than Norway, it would 
be hard to say that the tax-gatherer is treated 
with any marked respect, though he does not, 
luckily for him, meet with the fate that so often 


befell his namesakes in early times in Norway. 
For we are not aware that in recent times any 
tax-gatherer has either been stoned or hanged 
in Great Britain by an indignant community. 

These institutions remained much the same 
from Harold Fairhair's time to the reigns of 
Magnus and Harold Sigurdson. About the 
o$al, indeed, there were many struggles, and 
Hacon, Athelstane's foster-child, Harold Fair- 
hair's darling son, had to restore the freemen to 
their rights, and acknowledge that the freeborn 
holder of land was bound to pay no skatt, or 
quit-rent for it to the king or any other liege lord. 
With varying fortunes, as a rule, the freeman 
held his right, losing it for a little while, and 
then regaining it for a length of time. But then, 
along with him sprung up, all over Norway, on 
the forfeited lands which Harold Fairhair had 
first seized, and to which his successors added 
from time to time as they quarrelled with, and 
pulled down this or that ancient house, another 
class of holders in the vassals of the Crown ; and 
this class, as it grew gradually more powerful, so 
was it at last looked on in social position superior 
to the freeman, inasmuch as, while it basked in 
the sunshine of the Crown, and was constantly 
in connexion with the king and his court, he 
sunk into the position of a mere boor or farmer, 
who lived on his own land, shut out from the 


light of the king's countenance, " a man for him r 
self," as it was said, of a class who could look for 
no advancement except he went " into the king's 
hand," as it was called, that is to say, gave up 
his land, and received it back as a fief. At the 
time of which we write, the freemen still pre- 
vailed in numbers, but weight and influence were 
with the king's earls and vassals, on whom the 
king could rely more surely. Yet on all great 
occasions, when any trouble threatened, when any 
change in law or policy was needful, the king 
had always, like Antaeus, to fall back as it were 
on the bosom of his mother earth, to look to the 
rock whence it was hewn, and the pit whence it 
was digged, and to throw himself on his freemen 
to ratify his acts. Then it was that the four 
great Things, or legal centres, into which the 
whole country was divided, were called to- 
gether, and the freemen thronging a wide field 
under the free air of heaven, heard the words of 
their king. Such a meeting was that of the men 
of Drontheim, when they threatened a rising 
against Magnus for his hardness, and such meet- 
ings were held by most of Norway's kings, for 
without them, to use Atli's words, the freemen 
would have felt their shoes so tight, that they 
could not, and would not, have stirred a step. 

So far as their daily life was concerned, the 
kings, when at home, took up their abode during 


the year at different houses or granges on their 
own lands in this or that part of the country. 
These they made their headquarters, and thence 
they paid visits to their jarls and vassals in the 
neighbourhood, who were then bound once in 
the year to feast the king and his Court for a 
given time. Thus they passed, generally in 
autumn and winter, from grange to grange, and 
from vassal to vassal, and so the produce stored 
up from year to year was annually consumed. 
Sometimes, too, some great freeman, or some 
jarl or vassal who had lands of his own other 
than his fiefs, would ask the king to a feast under 
his roof; and at that, as it was not his bounden 
duty, but his own free will and pleasure, to make 
the king welcome, the cheer would be better and 
more abundant than in any of the king's houses ; 
for Harold Fairhair and his race were reckoned 
rather stingy and close-fisted by many of their 
great chiefs, whose pride it was to keep open 
house, where ale and mead and meat were 
served without stint to all comers, whatever their 
degree. At Yule, the great high-tide, the king 
kept his holiday at home ; and then, at least 
until Canute's or St. Knut's day, or our Twelfth 
Night, " drove Jule out " with the whip, which 
was the sign of the saint in the old Runic staves 
which were carved as calendars, it must have 
been a niggard king indeed who sent any one 
VOL. 11. Q 


away either hungry or athirst. And, indeed, 
there were many to feed in the king's constant 
company. First and foremost, himself, his queen, 
and children. Then his " Hird," or body-guard, 
chosen champions whom he kept always about 
him, his " Comitatus," as the Latins called it, his 
" GesrS," or, as it was known among Anglo- 
Saxons in " merry England," beaten blades, who 
had been with the king in war, and were ready 
to follow him again, every man of whom had 
done, or was eager to do some daring deed. Of 
these, Saint Olaf had as many as sixty with him 
— a little Varangian band, and Harold had many 
more. Then there were what were called the 
king's " guests ;" not at all stray visitors, for 
those might come to the Court at any time, and 
if worthy of mixing with it, were never turned 
away ; but guests specially bidden to stay, some 
of them a long time, having a captain or 
leader of their own ; standing to the king in 
a looser relation than the Hird, but yet his 
soldiers for the time, and differing from the Hird, 
that, as the latter seldom left the king, the former 
were liable to be sent off at any moment on some 
daring and dangerous quest eithe/ at home or 
abroad ; now to fetch the king some treasure 
of which he had heard, a strange beast, a mythic 
horn, a sword borne by some old Viking, and 
now known to be buried with him, and guarded 


by all the mysterious magic of a heathen tomb, an 
axe, a shield, a steed ; or, still more perilous, to 
traverse land and sea to cut off one of the king's 
foes in foreign land, and to bring back the grisly 
token of his head, and lay it at the monarch's 
feet. Thirty of these " guests " had Saint Olaf 
at one time. Besides, he had thirty house-carles, 
or free serving-men, and, in spite of his Chris- 
tianity, he had many thralls and slaves. When 
to these are added any number of unbidden 
guests who might claim shelter and food and 
drink at any time, and whom it would have been 
more than all base in a king to turn away, we 
may readily understand that the king's hall in 
those days must have been large, and the cost of 
his household anything but small. 

Nor in those days had the fashion of the house 
at all changed from what it had been in early 
times. The King's Hall was not one house, but 
rather several houses standing side by side, 
much as we see the Icelandic houses at the pre- 
sent day. There was the men's hall, the ladies' 
bower, the kitchen, the barn, and the stabling, 
side by side. There, in the hall sat the king, on 
his high seat in the middle of the bench on your 
right hand as you entered. On either side of 
him, right and left, sat his men, the nearest to 
him being highest in rank, and the farthest 
lowest, the man on the outer bench nearest the 


door being lowest of all. Over against him was 
another high seat on the other side of the hall, 
where his chief guest, or greatest councillor, or a 
brother king sat, and on either hand of him sat 
men in like manner according to their degree. 
The queen and her ladies sat on the cross bench 
at the end of the hall farthest from the door. 
The floor was thickly spread with straw ; on the 
pillars which propped the roof hung costly tapes- 
try; shields and weapons of every kind hung 
there too, for in those days of word and blow no 
man's sword was far from his hand. In the 
centre burnt a fire, the smoke of which found a 
vent through a louvre in the rafters, and some- 
times in very cold weather, fires were made down 
the whole length of the hall. When at meat, 
tables or boards were brought in and spread, but 
they were taken away when the food was eaten, 
and then drinking bouts began, in which the 
king and his guests and their men pledged each 
other across the fire, and so the horn went up 
and down the hall, man reaching it to man 
across the fire, each being bound to drain it to a 
certain depth on pain of a fine, and of being 
held up to scorn as a dastard who shirked his 
drink. Then songs were sung and stories told, 
wild fables, gallant feats of arms, mythical bal- 
lads, and travellers' tales. Nor were gibe and 
jeer and bitter words wanting ; for in the king's 


hall ancient foes often met, and spite of the 
king's peace and presence, many a death-blow 
was given in blood feuds, and heads spun off 
even on the king's own board. 

That was their life at home in-doors ; out of 
doors they shot, they rode, they swam, they 
hunted, they fished, they slaughtered the cattle 
needed for the house. They were skilled in all 
feats which needed strength of arm and sleight 
of hand, nor was it thought beneath a freeman's 
worth to till his own land, or build, or paint, or tar 
his own ship. Having built, he could steer and 
sail her on a cruise, and on many strange shores, 
in Ireland, England, Scotland, Spain, France, and 
even Iceland or Greenland, he knew the land- 
marks, and could tell where he was if driven out 
of his course by stress of weather. 

Abroad, and in war, the king lay aboard his 
ship. When they ran into harbour for the night, 
awnings were raised over the half-deck and 
over the waist. If he landed, tents were pitched. 
If the host needed food they went up the country, 
drove down beeves and sheep, and slaughtered 
them on the strand. In sea-fights the ships on 
each side were usually fast linked and tied to- 
gether. Thus one made and thus the other 
awaited the onslaught. Boarding was the 
favourite mode of attack, and each party strove 
to clear their enemies' decks by slaying the 


crew, or forcing them to leap overboard. When 
one ship was thus cleared, they passed on from 
her to another, and the great signal of defeat was 
when the worsted side hewed asunder the hawsers 
that bound their fleet together, and every captain 
fled from the fight in the best way he could. 

Such was the daily life of Magnus and Harold, 
now joint kings, and thus they spent the winter 
of 1046 in passing from feast to feast on their 
fiefs in the Uplands, reaching Drontheim to 
keep Christmas. Each had his own Hird or fol- 
lowing ; sometimes they were together, some- 
times apart. But it was soon seen, as indeed 
was to be looked for, that the kings were not 
such good friends as they might have been, and 
that there was little love lost between them. 
From the first, uncle and nephew were in a false 
position. But besides, their characters were 
utterly unlike and jarring. Nor was there any 
lack of talebearers, the curse of kings, to make 
mischief between them. The quick eyes of the 
freemen soon saw that they had got in Harold a 
much harder master than Magnus had ever been, 
and most of the chiefs felt that their influence, 
real or apparent, over the king, would cease if 
Harold were ever sole ruler. In money matters, 
too, Harold was near and grasping. His hand 
was often shut, but with Magnus it was ever 
open. No wonder that comparisons were made 


between them, not at all in Harold's favour ; for 
the chiefs still looked on Harold as little better 
than a lucky adventurer, who had forced his way 
to power by a daring stroke. Harold soon saw 
where his foes lay, and was hard in enforcing 
his claims for tax and toll in those houses. The 
freemen about Drontheim complained to Magnus, 
who would not believe the ill spoken of his 
uncle, but sent Einar to search out the truth. 
By Einar's advice, the freemen refused to pay 
Harold's demands till Magnus said they were 
just ; and Harold had to put up with the affront, 
promising Einar, however, to make him shorter 
by the head at some future time. We shall see 
that he kept his word. So the winter wore on, 
and things grew worse and worse ; and in the 
case of Reidar, an Icelander, whom Magnus be- 
friended, threatened to come to an outbreak. 
This man passed for almost a fool, but Brutus- 
like, he hid rare gifts under a witless mask. He 
was strong, too ; for once when Harold's men 
behaved rudely to him, he caught up one of 
them, threw him head over heels in the air, 
fractured his skull, and so slew him. The two 
kings were then together in Drontheim, and 
Magnus, not daring to keep Reidar with him for 
fear of Harold, sent him off to Gaulardale, to 
one of his vassals. Harold wanted a blood-fine 
for his man, but Magnus would not pay it, as he 


was slain in his own wrong-doing. So Harold 
went with sixty men to seek for Reidar, found 
out his hiding-place, and ordered the vassal to 
give him up. While the vassal was thinking 
what to do, out rushed Reidar towards the king, 
begging for forgiveness, and asking him not to 
scorn a little gift, in the shape of a silver boar, 
which he had just made. Harold took the gift, 
and wondering at the great skill with which it 
was made, promised Reidar his forgiveness ; 
but on looking more closely at it he saw it was 
no boar at all, for it was a sow with bursting 
teats. Then he knew at once the meaning of 
the gift, and how it was offered as an insult ; for 
it pointed to his father Sigurd, nicknamed Syr 
or the Sow, and his mean and nasty habits, for 
he tied bags under his horses' tails to catch 
their dung, lest any should fall and be lost to his 
farm. So Harold threw down the sow, saying, 
" May all the Trolls take hold of thee ! up, men, 
and slay him ; " but Reidar was too quick for 
them. He snatched up the sow and ran away 
to the wood, leaving Harold in bitter wrath. 
King Magnus lost no time in sending him back 
to Iceland, for Harold was not the man to brook 
such insults. 

So again when Arnor Earlskald, the greatest 
skald of the day, came from Orkney with songs 
which he had made on both the kings, and they 


sent for him one day to hear his verse. The 
messengers found him busy tarring his ship ; but 
he went all begrimed with tar and pitch straight 
to the kings' hall. u Room for the kings' skald," 
he cried to the doorkeeper. " Hail, Lords both ! " 
were his words as he stood before the kings. 
"Of which of us wilt thou first sing?" asked 
Harold. " The younger," answered Arnor. 
" Why V* " Lord," he answered, " 'tis said young 
men are most impatient," a wise answer, since 
Harold could not object to the reason, and yet 
to be first praised was the greater honour, and 
that Magnus got. So he began his song, and first 
he sung of the Orkney Earls across the western 
main, of his dwelling there, and of his own deeds. 
Then he turned to King Magnus, and praised 
him, above all other kings, in glowing verse. 
But in Harold he had the severest critic of the 
age : an accomplished poet, with the nicest ear 
and the finest and truest taste of his time. This 
we know from Snorro Sturluson's testimony, and 
the number of quotations which he makes in his 
treatise on Skaldic poetry from Harold's poems, 
which were looked upon as masterpieces. Like 
Caesar, he was not only the greatest warrior, but 
the best and purest writer of his age. Arnor' s 
poem was itself a masterpiece ; but Harold's 
taste was spoiled by spite at the preference shown 
to Magnus, and he said at once the opening was 


too long. So when Arnor was dwelling on the 
Orkney Earls and his own exploits, Harold burst 
out—" Why sit here, Lord, and listen to this 
song, even though he has written it on his own 
deeds and the Earls in the Isles West r " " Bide 
a while, kinsman," said Magnus, " I fear you 
will think me quite enough praised by the time 
the song is over." Again, when he turned to 
Magnus and praised him before all kings, and 
hoped he might prosper above them all till the 
crack of doom, Harold cried out, " Praise this 
king as much as thou likest, but don't blame 
other kings ! " But Arnor held on his course, and 
praised the gallant Bison ; how she bore Magnus 
under the snow-white awning, and how in the 
thickest fight Magnus shunned neither fire nor 
steel. Harold cried, " This man lays it on thick, 
I wonder when it will end ?" But it ended with 
likening the voyage of Magnus over the waves 
to the flight of a band of angels, so that his people 
loved him more than aught else next to God 
himself. As soon as ever that song was ended, 
Arnor began one on Harold. The so-called 
" Blue-Goose " Song, or Raven Song, said also 
to have been a good piece. 

When both were over, Arnor asked what 
Harold thought of them. "We can very well 
see," he said, " the difference between these 
songs. Mine will soon fall out of mind, so that 


no man will know it ; but this dirge which has 
been made on King Magnus will be sung so 
long as men dwell in the North." Harold gave 
Arnor a spear with shaft studded with gold, and 
Magnus had before given him a ring of gold, and 
so the proud bard stalked out of the hall bearing 
the ring high aloft on the felloe or socket of the 
spear, where the head is fitted to the shaft, and 
turns off into a hook, saying as he went, " High 
we must hold both kings' Fgifts." Then King 
Harold said, " When next thou comest to Nor- 
way, long-worded fellow, have a song ready for 
me." Arnor promised to do so, " but it shall be 
a dirge when we drink heirship at thy burial, if I 
live longest." 

In such strife and bickerings the winter wore 
away. Spring came, and with it war. But the 
winter had been unusually cold, and in the month 
of February the sea was icebound between Den- 
mark and Norway, so that wolves wandered over 
it from one country to the other.* With the cold 
came hunger and sickness. Harold and Magnus 
were slow in getting their fleets to sea, and 
Sweyn had time to seek help against them from 
England. There Sweyn was bound by ties of 
kindred with the mighty Earl Godwin, half a 
Northman himself, then as much lord over Eng- 
land as Edward, and with whom two of Sweyn's 

* Islenzkir Annalar, sub an. 1047. 


brothers were then living. He betook himself 
therefore to Bruges, to treat thence with his 
friends in England, but the Anglo-Saxons had 
had enough of the Danes, and both the King and 
his people were of one mind that Sweyn had 
better fight his battles without their help. This 
might have been bad policy, for when Sweyn 
was conquered it might be England's turn, but 
kings and peoples are often heedless, and slow 
to listen to the lessons of statecraft, and so 
Sweyn was left alone. "While Sweyn and Harold 
were mustering their fleet, a little story is told 
which shows how jealous Magnus was of his 
rights, and how carefully Harold avoided a col- 
lision. They lay in " the Bay," and were sailing 
north. It so chanced that Harold was first under 
weigh, and kept the lead all the day, and came first 
to the harbour, where they were to lay by for the 
night. There he steered straight for the King's 
berth. By the time Magnus came, Harold had 
already set up his awning over his ship, and 
made his ship fast by hawsers to the shore. 
Wrathful at this, Magnus bade his men, as soon 
as they struck sail, to sit at the oars on both 
boards on all his ships, and said, " Ply your oars, 
and some of you get up our weapons, and let us 
fight them, if they will not yield us our berth." 
But when Harold saw that, he said to his men, 
" Kinsman Magnus is angry now. Let us cut 


our cables, and back our ships out of our berth." 
That was done, and King Magnus took their 
place. But when all was cared for in both 
fleets, King Harold went aboard Magnus's 
ship with a few men, and Magnus greeted him 
and bade him welcome. " Methought," said 
Harold, " we were in company with friends, but 
we had some doubt a while ago whether you 
meant to let things so stand ; but true it is as the 
saw goes — 'Bairns are brainstrong,' and so I 
will not set it down to aught else than the hot- 
headedness of youth/' Magnus answered, " Set 
it down rather to the spirit of my race, and 
not to my youth, though I bore in mind what I 
gave up and what I kept back. If this small 
thing had been taken without our leave, some- 
thing else greater would soon have been taken ; 
but as we will hold all bargain we made with 
you, so we will have from you what is our bounden 
due." Then King Harold rose up and said, 
" -Tis an old saying, ' The wiser always gives 
way/ " and with that he went on board his ship. 
"From such dealings of the kings with one 
another," says the Saga, "it seemed hard to 
guess how long their friendship would last ; for 
the men of either held by their lord. Magnus's 
men said that he had right to speak so ; but 
those who were less wise said that all this was 
lowering for Harold, and so it ought to be, for 


Magnus must have the lion's share in everything. 
But Harold's own men said, the only bargain 
that had been made between them, was that 
Magnus was to have the king's berth if they 
came both at once into harbour ; but that Harold 
was not bound to back out of the berth if he had 
run into it first. And so they said that Harold 
had turned this matter well and wisely. But 
those of Harold's side who bore ill-will to 
Magnus, added, that he showed himself over- 
bearing to his kinsman by such undertakings, 
and meant to break their bargain by wrong- 
doing. And so wise and good-hearted men felt 
great dread from such quarrels for the king's 
friendship, for such and many other like things 
showed that each had a will of his own." 

At last the fleets were ready, and they steered 
for Denmark. There the fleets parted, and each 
went his own way seeking for Sweyn; but 
Sweyn, so far from being able to cope with 
Magnus and Harold, was not even sure of his 
own people, for they gathered an army against 
him, and defeated him, perhaps before Magnus 
came to help them, on the 9th of August, 1047. 
After that, as Saxo says, despairing of success, 
he fled to Scania in Sweden, his old lurking- 
place.* Thence across the Sound he made 

* Sveno, desperatis jam rebus, in Scaniam profectus, Sueciam 
revisere properabat. 


flights into Denmark like a bird of prey, hover- 
ing about the fleets of his foes, watching for a 
chance of striking them a blow either by sea or 
land, and showing all the chivalrous daring of 
his nature. So it fell out, that one day, as both 
kings lay near the land in their ships, the 
weather was bright, and down to the strand 
stretched a fair level plain, bounded on the land 
side by a thick wood ; and lo ! a man rode out 
of the wood in splendid knightly war-gear, and 
this man was the most graceful and courteous of 
men, and so he rode at full speed along the level 
slope, and as he went he disported himself with 
many a daring feat of horsemanship with mickle 
craft, so that all the king's company were eager 
to behold; but when he had so taken his pastime 
for a long time, he turned his horse down to- 
wards the ships' crews, and called out in a loud 
voice, " I am a niddering, and a traitor to King 
Magnus, but King Harold is the same to me. 
All unlike are these two kings, Magnus and 
Harold." With that he turned his steed and 
was lost to sight. King Magnus knew that man 
well, and said, "Sweyn Ulf's son is a proper 
man, and a man of mark. Had he men to 
stand by him of the same stuff, and as bold and 
daring as himself, he would win more battles." 

This looks as though Magnus was more afraid 
of Harold than of Sweyn ; and if it be true that 


he forgave one of his men, who when Sweyn 
was hard pressed in a sea-fight spared his life 
and set him free, and who excused himself by 
saying, that he did it in the king's interest, it 
would seem as though he thought his worst foe 
was one of his own house. So too, he allowed 
his mother Alfhilda to set free Thorkell Geysa, 
a great Danish chief, and one of his worst 
enemies, that she might have a refuge in Den- 
mark if anything happened to himself. 

And now his time was coming. We have 
seen that he was a pattern of strength and 
beauty, but it is just such manly models that 
death often grudges to the world, and so it was 
to be with Magnus. The path of History is 
thickly strewn with early graves. Strange to 
say, we scarce know how it happened. His own 
annals are almost silent as to the cause, and if 
we were left to them alone, we might suspect 
that Harold had used some of those arts in 
which Zoe was such an adept, against his 
nephew's life. But from the Danish historians 
we know that it was not so. There is no reason 
to believe that Harold had any hand in the 
death of Magnus, except in so far as the jealousy 
which no doubt had sprung up between them 
may have weighed on the mind of Magnus, and 
thus added to the sad foreboding of his coming 
end. It was in one of those raids in quest of 


Sweyn, and just as he was on the eve of follow- 
ing him into Scania, that a hare sprung across 
his path as he rode at full speed, the horse 
swerved, Magnus fell heavily from the saddle, 
striking his head against the trunk of a tree, 
and so died.* This would look as if he had 
been killed on the spot, but, on the other hand, 
we know that he died on board his fleet; and 
that not only from his native annals, but from 
Adam of Bremen, who wrote on information 
afforded by Sweyn himself. We may believe 
then, that he died from the effects of that fall, 
and that he languished and lingered some little 
time, and at last died later on in the year. It is 
only over the cause of death, that darkness. As 
to the manner of his death itself we have a flood 
of light. So good a king could not pass away 
and leave no sign. Indeed, there were signs 
and tokens, all showing the melancholy which 
brooded over his mind. Magnus was "fey." 
So it was one night as he lay off the Jutland 
coast, he dreamed a dream, and saw King Olaf, 
who said, "My son, whether of the twain wilt 
thou choose, to come now to me, or to be the 
mightiest king on earth, and to live long, but to 

* " Quem (Svenonem) Magnus concitato animi impetu sub- 
secutus, quum oppidum Alexstadiam prseterirret, deturbato per 
occursum leporis equo ; trunco, cujus prseacuti forte stipites emine- 
bant, adactus extinguitur," says Saxo Grammaticus in his strange 



do that sinful deed, from which thou shalt never, 
or at best scarcely ever be shriven ? " And he 
thought he made answer, "My will, father, is 
that thou choosest for me." "Then shalt thou 
come with me now," said King Olaf. No won- 
der that his men "drew down their brows" 
when he told the dream. So a little after, as he 
lay one morning in his cabin, in the poop of his 
ship, he threw the clothes off him with a sigh, 
and was in a steaming heat.* The watchful 
Einar was at his side, and said, " Art thou sick, 
Lord }" " Not very sick yet, foster-father mine," 
said the king. " That is great grief," said Einar, 
" for to thy friends thy loss will never be made 
good if they lose thee." "Let them make my 
bed, foster-father, forward in the bow, out at 
the very stem. There it will be cooler and 
pleasanter ; " but as soon as he got into his bed, 
he said, with another sigh, "This is no good; 
bear me back to the old place ; " and it was 
done. Then Einar said, " Say now, Lord, to thy 
friends all that is needful, and give us good 
counsel ; maybe we shall not be able to speak 
long together." " So I will," said the king, " for 
it is likeliest this sickness will soon sunder our 

* The words of the Saga are " ok rauk af honum," which cer- 
tainly do not mean as Munch translates them, " i Feberhede," "in 
fever heat." The words recall the steam and reek that rises from a 
horse after a sharp-run race. It was the clammy sweat of weakness 
which weighed him down. 


fellowship." By this time Harold was come. 
" Are ye sick, Lord ? " " Sick I am, of a truth, 
kinsman," answered Magnus, "and I will ask 
you this : Be the friend of my friends." " I am 
bound to be so for your sake," said Harold, 
" but some of them think themselves quite 
strong enough without me, and me they rather 
look down on." This was aimed at Einar, who 
broke in, " Tis no good talking about this. He 
has already made up his mind what he will 
do, whatever he now promises." "Why," said 
Harold, " is it not likeliest, and besides my most 
bounden duty, that I should be the friend of my 
friends ?" Einar would not stay to bandy words 
with Harold over the sick man's bed, but turned 
and said to Magnus, " Speak ye, my Lord King 
Magnus, what is of more moment, about the 
realm, how it ought to go." Then answered 
Magnus, " My counsel to thee, kinsman Harold, 
is that thou turnest back to Norway, thy land of 
heritage, and watchest over her. For so it was 
settled between me and Hardicanute, that the 
realm of Denmark should not pass to my heirs if 
I got it, and the same with Norway as to his 
heirs. Therefore let King Sweyn now have 
Denmark." But Harold answered, "Methinks 
I have one and the same right to Denmark and 
Norway both if thou art lost to us." Then 
Magnus said, "Now I see that our talk will 


come to little," and was silent. Then Harold 
asked a question after his own heart : " How 
much now is left of all that great heap of gold 
which we brought with us into the land, and of 
which you had half?" Harold asked like a 
pedler, and Magnus answered like a king : 
" Look round on both broadsides, how they are 
manned with good lads and mighty men. To 
them have I given the gold, and in its stead I 
have had from them love and faith, for the help 
and manhood of one good follower is better than 
much goods." Harold had got his answer, and 
left his nephew. Then Einar said, " Take some 
counsel, for thy brother Thorir, little honour will 
Harold show him ; enough if he can keep his 
life." Thorir was the king's half-brother on the 
mother's side. So Thorir was sent for, with 
one companion named Ref, and the king said, 
" Go now you two away from the fleet into 
woods, and 'twill be no long time ere the 
trumpets and horns will sound loud, and then ye 
shall take that for a token that my death has 
come. Then go both of you as speedily as ye 
can to King Sweyn, and bring him my word 
that my wish is that he befriend thee, brother, 
as he would wish that I should befriend his 
brother were he on his deathbed." Thorir could 
scarce utter a word for grief, and Magnus went 
on : " This also shall ye say to King Sweyn, 


that I give him all the realm of Denmark, to 
have and to hold henceforth free from any man's 
gainsaying." So they two, Thorir and Ref, 
went on land into the woods and waited there. 
They had not long to tarry. Soon after Harold 
too came back, and sat down by his nephew's 
bed, who had fallen into a doze. In after-days, 
when the characters of both were better known, 
something was said to have happened, which 
strangely shows the wild belief of the age. As 
Magnus slumbered, his mouth gaped, and lo ! 
there came forth from it, as it were, a fish, a 
golden fish ; and that fish tried to get back into 
the sleeper's mouth, but could not. Then it 
made for Harold, and passed into his mouth, 
and as it was lost to view it seemed as though it 
were dark of hue. Soon after Magnus awoke, 
and when he heard this portent he said, " 'Tis a 
token that my life will be but short and maybe 
Harold's counsels and plans will be darker and 
more cold-blooded than mine have been." The 
warm and golden prime of Magnus was to be 
followed by the dark and chilling evening of 
Harold, whose heart was cold-blooded as a fish. 
Then Magnus took witness again that he gave 
Harold all the realm of Norway, and Denmark 
to Sweyn ; and afterwards two priests came and 
shrove and houseled him, for he was now hard 
at death's door. His last act was to give his 


foot-page a costly knife and belt. He had for- 
gotten no one, and left nothing to share after 
his death save his realms. As the boy took the 
gift he looked at the king's face, and he was just 
at his last gasp. So on October 25, 1047, three 
days before the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, 
died Magnus the Good, aged twenty-two years 
and six months. He had been twelve years 
King of Norway, three years of which, up to the 
Treaty of Burntislands, were spent under the 
guardianship of Kalf and Einar. Five years was 
he King of Denmark. All his subjects bewailed 
his loss, for he was brave, generous, and gentle, 
though he could be stern when it was needful ; 
of most noble mien, and most gracious manners; 
of pure and blameless life before God and man. 
In a word, the darling of his own people, and 
the dread of his foes. The Norwegians adored 
him, and the Danes respected him. To the one 
he had restored their national independence, for 
the last he had curbed their worst enemies, the 
heathen Wends. In his own lifetime he was 
called "The Good," and after-times found no 
reason to challenge the verdict of his day. 
Happy, too, in what makes most men unhappy, 
in that he was never married, and dying thus 
early left no son. It was hard for Harold to 
keep peace with the nephew to whom he owed 
so much. Had Magnus left an heir of tender 


years behind him, round whom the great chiefs 
could have rallied, Norway would have been 
plunged, so far as we can see, into the miseries 
of a disputed succession, and in all likelihood 
would not at once have found in Harold the 
schoolmaster she so much needed. 

Magnus was the Arthur of the North, the hero 
not of romance but of real life. He too had 
warred against the " Heathen of the South," 
and smitten them hip and thigh. The gallant 
company of his Hird was his " Table Round." 
His too was the blameless life of " the flower of 
kings ; " in Sighvat Skald he had his Merlin, in 
Sweyn he found the traitor Mordred. Harold 
was his Lancelot, but the Guinevere whom the 
great warrior sought to win was none other than 
that fair land of Norway ; though unlike the 
guilty queen she was true to her liege lord, and 
only gave herself up with a sigh to her wooer 
when death had cut asunder the tie which bound 
her to her first love. The story of her life with 
Harold is still to tell. 



The thread of our story was dropped at the 
death of Magnus the Good (Oct. 25, 1047) : we 
now take it up to tell how his uncle Harold 
ruled Norway with undivided sway. 

The wailing sound of the horns came heavily 
over the water to the wood in which Thorir and 
Ref were hid, and they at once set out on their 
way to Sweyn. They were only just in time, 
for we are told that Harold sent men after them 
as soon as the breath was out of his nephew's 
body, to cut them off, and so stay the message. 
Next, Harold called together all the Norwegian 
warriors to a Thing, in which he gave it out that 
he would not listen to the last wishes of Magnus 

* I. "Det Norske Folks Historic" P. A. Munch. Vols. i. ii. iii. 
Christiania, 1852 — 55. 

2. " Den Danske Erobring af England og Normandiet." J. J. 
A. Worsaae. Copenhagen, Gyldendalske Boghhandling, 1863. 


as to his realm, that he was heir to Denmark 
just as much as he was heir to Norway, and that 
his purpose was to make for Viborg, call an 
Assembly of the Danes, and have himself chosen 
King of Denmark. If they could only now sub- 
due that land, the Danes would bow their heads 
before the Norwegians for all time. But Einar 
again rose to thwart Harold's plans. It was far 
more his bounden duty, he said, to bear the body 
of King Magnus, his foster-son, to the grave, 
and to carry him to his father Saint Olaf, than 
to war in a foreign land with King Harold, 
though he were greedy of another king's realm 
and rule. For his part, he would sooner follow 
King Magnus dead than any other king alive. 
Then he took the body and laid it out hand- 
somely in the dead king's ship, and set it up 
so high that the bier could be seen from all the 
other ships in the fleet. And then all the Dront- 
heimers, and many other Norwegians, made 
ready to go home with the body, and the whole 
host broke up and split asunder. So Harold, 
against his will, was forced to yield, and to go 
back with the rest. Off the Cattegat he ran into 
"the Bay," and landing went slowly up the 
country, passing from Thing to Thing till he 
came to Drontheim, and as he went he took 
an oath of fealty from the freemen that he was 
sole lawful king in Norway. Long before he 


reached Drontheim, Einar had got home with 
his mournful freight. All the dwellers in the 
town met the corse at the water's edge, and so 
it was laid in St. Clement's Church, where his 
father's shrine was then kept. " Many a tall 
man," it is said, " stood weeping over the grave 
of King Magnus, and long grieved they for his 
loss." As soon as Harold reached Drontheim, 
he called together the eight districts which were 
called Drontheim,* and there in a solemn meet- 
ing he was chosen king, and now none dared 
dispute his right to Norway. 

Meantime Thorir and his companion had 
made their way to Sweyn, whom they caught 
just as he was leaving Denmark. They found 
him in Scania, which then and long after was 
Danish soil. He was just about to mount his 
horse to cross the border into Sweden, and to 
bid farewell for ever to Denmark. " What news 
from the host ? what are the Norwegians about }" 
he eagerly asked. Ref told him that Magnus 
was dead, and gave him the message which 
made him king in Denmark ; the only condition 
being that he should befriend Thorir. Then 
Sweyn answered with great feeling, " These are 
great tidings ; as for thee Thorir, thou shalt be 

* In those days Drontheim was the name of the district, and not 
of the town. Strictly speaking, the town was called Niftaros, that 
is, the town at the mouth of the river Nro\ 


welcome, and we will show thee great honour, 
for so I trow would the good King Magnus show 
to my brother if so things had come about. And 
now I lay this vow in the hands of God, that 
never again, so long as I live, will I fly from 
Denmark." Then he sprang on his horse and 
rode back through Scania, and much folk flocked 
to him as soon as the news spread that Magnus 
was dead. That winter Sweyn laid all Den- 
mark under him, and all the Danes took him to 
be their king. The oath which he had given to 
Magnus was gone. His conscience was free and 
his people were free to choose whom they would. 
The struggle with Norway took a new shape, 
and the Danes went heart and soul with Sweyn. 
And Harold, though his mind was bent on war 
with Sweyn, had enough to do at home. As the 
last of Harold Fairhair's race on the swordside 
none could challenge his hereditary right to the 
crown, But though he had rights he met with 
no love. The nation's heart was buried with 
Magnus. It looked for a stern and unforgiving 
lord in Harold, and it found one in him. Be- 
sides Norway needed such a ruler. The great 
chiefs and vassals were now too strong. On the 
ruins of the freemen's allodial rights they had 
risen to be a power in the State, and their houses 
were so many fortresses which threatened to 
defy the king's authority. Saint Olaf had seen 


the evil and fell in trying to check it. Then 
came a short period of national repentance, 
during the greater part of which the chiefs and 
vassals were all-powerful, for Magnus was but a 
child. At the end of his short reign, for he was 
not twenty-three when he died, the relations 
between ruler and ruled were hearty and loving, 
but still the crown was, as it were, in com- 
mission in the hands of Einar and his fellows. 
Now the reign of love was over, the battle must 
be fought out to the last between the Crown and 
its vassals, and Harold was just the man to win 
in such a struggle. " He was mighty," says the 
Saga, "and turned with a w T ill to govern the 
land at home, and beyond measure wise and 
understanding, so that all. said with one voice 
there was never a more understanding far- 
sighted king in the North. Besides, he was a 
surpassing warrior, strong and well-skilled in 
all feats of arms, and above all things, a man 
who knew how to work out his will." " Greedy 
he was of power, and he grew more and more 
greedy of it the firmer he felt himself in the land 
and government, and at last it went so far that 
most of those smarted for it who dared to speak 
against him, or to take other things in hand than 
those he thought good and right." His whole 
reign, as has been well shown by Munch, was 
one continuous effort and purpose to carry out 


his scheme of government with the most un- 
bending will, to strengthen the power of the 
Crown, crush risings and rebellion, to stifle dis- 
turbances, and to bring the whole realm to a 
state of order and discipline, so that there might 
be one Norway under one king. Few kings 
could have done this in the face of strife at home 
and wasting war abroad ; yet Harold did it so 
well, that he left at his death an orderly, flourish- 
ing, firmly-founded, and contented kingdom to his 
heirs. In him the National Church found a vigo- 
rous champion against the encroachments of the 
See of Bremen, and he left on it a stamp of liberty 
which the Papacy could not mar for centuries, if 
it ever quite succeeded. All this he could never 
have done had he not been a man of wonderful 
powers of mind, as well as will and daring. He 
must have had a good head as well as a heavy 
hand. As Magnus got his by-name "The Good" 
in his lifetime, so Harold was known almost as 
soon as he stepped upon the throne by a just and 
fitting title : Harold Hardrada (Haraldr hinn 
HarSra^i) was what all men called him. Harold 
of hard redes as we should have said in early 
English ; Harold " the hard-hearted/' Harold 
the stern, a man whose terms were hard, and 
whose counsels and conditions were hard to bear, 
for they looked to his profit and interest alone. 
This hardness was no doubt the fruit of the trials 


he had undergone in youth, not a little helped, 
perhaps, by that atmosphere of intrigue in which 
he had spent so many of his best years at the 
Greek Emperor's Court. And yet this man so 
hard, so stern, so greedy of fame and goods, had 
a heart if any one was lucky enough to find the 
way to it. Many stories prove that he could be 
affable, condescending, and entertaining, nay, 
more, that he could be loveable, liberal, and 
generous. His skill in poetry, and in all the 
literature of the age, showed a mind full of taste 
and feeling, and a soul which, in better times, 
would have been capable of great things, in arts 
as well as in arms ; but along with all those noble 
gifts he showed a tyrant's temper, in that he was 
fickle, hasty, and overbearing; none could tell 
how long he would be of the same mind, and, 
while basking in the sunshine of his favour, none 
knew how soon his smile would turn into a frown. 
Such was the man whom Providence had 
pitted against the great Norwegian chiefs, who 
at one and the same time were vassals of the 
Crown.* They were a formidable array, even if 

• First and foremost of these was Einar Paunchshaker, of whom 
we have so often heard. He was strong in the Drontheim district, 
and his wife, Bergliot, was sprung from the great Earl Hacon, so 
that their son Eindridi might boast of princely blood. Another 
great chief was the only earl in Norway, Orm Eilif's son, of the 
Uplands, side by side with whom stood his kinsman, the young, 
fair, and gallant Hacon Ivar's son, whose father was the grandson 
of the same Earl Hacon. In Ringerike was Step-Thorir, the 


taken chief by chief, and vassal by vassal ; but 
there had also happened what will ever happen 
in such a state of things, all these chiefs were 
more or less bound together by ties of kinship or 
marriage, and a blow struck at one branch of 
the tree shook all the rest. Harold's difficulty 
was the same as that which met and overthrew 
King Olaf. He had to fight against the same 
local and personal interests and the old enemy 
with the old face ; but he had one advantage 
which the Saint had not, while the heads of 
these great houses clung to the old system, a 
younger generation was springing up who felt 
that Norway was a whole, and not a mere 
gathering together of parts and provinces. The 
old system might be said to have held together 
the several atoms of the State by frost, which 
melted before any hot trial like that of Canute's 
invasion, and each atom was left to itself. St. 
Olaf s system, as worked out by Harold, aimed 
at welding all the atoms together by repeated 

mightiest man in Gudbrandsdale. In the south-west was Aslak ; 
in the Sognefirth Brynjolf, Helgi's son. In the north-west was the 
great House of the Arnmodlings. Eystein Orri or the Gorcock, at 
Giske, and Finn Ami's son, brother of that mighty Kalf, who fled 
from Norway at the reproaches of Magnus. He lived at Austratt 
on Yrje, at the mouth of the Drontheim Firth. In Helgeland to 
the north, in the strip of land between the skerries and the Fells, 
Einar, the Fly of Thjotta, had rule. He was Harold's vassal or 
lendirman, and early in the reign is named as having the wardship 
of the Finnskatt or fur trade. 


blows given by the strong arm of the Crown, 
and when Harold died he left Norway quite 
annealed and amalgamated ; one kingdom, and 
not a mere congeries of provinces. But besides 
this advantage arising out of the awaking of 
national consciousness, he had another in his 
personal power and craft. He had the end in 
view, and in his policy the means were hallowed 
by the end. We have seen that he was already 
wedded to Elizabeth. She had borne him two 
daughters, Maria and Ingigerd, but no son. It 
does not appear that Harold was ever separated 
from Jaroslav's daughter, and we know that she 
was with him at his end ; but however it may be, 
it does appear that he strove to break up the 
compact array of the great chiefs by marrying a 
kinswoman of the mightiest of them. He turned 
his eyes therefore on Thora, Eystein Gorcock's 
sister, and so became still more closely related 
to the Arnmodlings. This step left him with 
two wives on his hands, for it is certain that he 
was formally married to Thora, who is constantly 
called Queen in the Sagas, while Elizabeth is 
never mentioned except at the beginning and 
end of his reign. But two wives or one, this 
marriage was a most politic step, for the Arn- 
modlings were widely connected, and by this 
single stroke not only Eystein Gorcock, but also 
Finn Ami's son, Hacon Ivar's son, and Einar the 


Fly, were brought over to Harold's party, for a 
time at least, and the stiff-necked Einar Paunch- 
shaker, Step-Thorir, and some other Upland 
chiefs were his only enemies. Einar was strong, 
as we know, about Drontheim, the old heart and 
capital of the country ; and now as a set-off and 
balance to his weight, Harold made his trusty 
friend and old brother- in-arms, Ulf Ospak's son 
from Iceland, a vassal of the crown, and gave 
him great fiefs in the Drontheim district. At 
the same time he made him his Marshal or 
Master of the Horse, and to crown all gave him 
Thora's sister, Jorunna, to wife ; and Ulf by his 
faithfulness well deserved this good treatment. 
So Harold began his reign strong in himself and 
in his second marriage. Of yielding an inch to 
the unruliness of the freemen there could be no 
question. All that had been left by Magnus of 
the Danish imposts and injustice he rigidly 
maintained, and even added to. No king before 
or after him ever stood up so stiffly for his rights, 
or so systematically neglected those of others. 
Einar, so long as he lived, often upbraided him 
for breaking the law, but the king, strong in his 
policy of setting chief against chief, turned a deaf 
ear to his reproaches, or if he gave way for a 
moment, it was only to return to his purpose with 
firmer will and greater force. Nor did he scorn, 
in his eagerness to add to his resources, to bring 
VOL. 11. s 


in a very common mediaeval financial operation. 
He struck coin so debased that scarce one half 
of it was silver, the rest being copper. These, 
almost the first coins in Norway, were known as 
Harold's Bits. And now, armed at all points, he 
made ready to fight it out with Sweyn. 

This war with Sweyn lasted nearly twenty 

years, and we see at once why it lasted so long. 

Harold was never, as Magnus had been, chosen 

king by the Danes, who had now, for the most 

part, rallied round Sweyn, and who looked upon 

Harold as a merciless usurper. Nor did Harold 

make war as a conqueror, but rather as an old 

Viking rover. Every year he called out his 

host, manned his fleet, and sailed for Denmark ; 

there he harried and wasted the coasts and 

islands, burning, slaying, and plundering as he 

went, but seldom going up the country in force. 

So it was every year so long as the summer 

lasted. He spent his time in seeking for Sweyn, 

and sometimes met him, but as soon as winter 

came, he went back to Norway. He had too 

much to do at home to render it possible for him 

to leave the land for a longer time, and every 

winter Sweyn repaired his losses, and was ready 

when the spring came to make war with renewed 

life. Nor, though success was mostly on 

Harold's side, was he always successful. More 

than once he was nearly caught by Sweyn at 


great disadvantage, and only got clear off by 
extraordinary shifts and efforts. A war so waged 
might have lasted for ever and ever. Harold's 
stubborn nature was worn out at last, and he 
made peace with Sweyn. Nor was his fleet so 
large as those of the beloved Magnus. The free- 
men, headed by Einar, were not so willing to 
stand by him as they had been with their lost 
darling. Nor must we forget that Harold's 
policy at home tended to strengthen his foes 
abroad. Chief after chief fell or fled before him 
in Norway; but those who fled betook them- 
selves to Sweyn, who welcomed them with open 
arms, and the friends and kinsmen of those who 
fell were not slow in following this example. So 
that Harold's successful efforts to strengthen the 
Crown in Norway, raised ever and anon new 
recruits for Sweyn, whose ranks were filled, and 
whose hosts were led by Norwegian exiles. 

In the campaign of 1048, Harold took ven- 
geance on his bitter enemy, Thorkell Geysa, 
whose daughters the winter before had mocked 
at Harold and his power, for they had carved 
anchors out of cheese, and said they were strong 
enough to hold Harold's fleet if he dared to show 
his face in Denmark. NowHarold steered straight 
for the firth at Randers in South Jutland. No 
long way from the strand lay Thorkell's house ; 
he was away from home, but his sharp-tongued 


daughters would not listen to the warning words 
of the warder as he saw the hostile fleet far off 
upon the sea. It was only when they were told 
it was running up the firth that they would be- 
lieve their eyes. Then it was too late to fly, and 
when the warder asked them : " What say ye 
now, ye daughters of Geysa ? does Harold dare 
to come to Denmark or no ? " all they could 
answer was : " 'Twas yesterday we said that/' 
Harold's men were at the gate. "Now let us 
show/' he said, " Geysa's daughters that our 
anchors are not of cheese, but of stouter stuff." 
A ring of men was thrown round the house, and 
Harold bade them fire it. As it began to blaze, 
the maidens begged to be allowed to leave it, 
and Harold said, though they well deserved to 
burn along with it, still he was willing to see 
how Norse fetters would fit Danish legs. So they 
were driven down to the beach in chains. As 
soon as Thorkell heard what had happened, he 
hastened to Harold, who being then in a good 
temper, allowed him to ransom his daughters at 
a heavy price. That same summer Harold de- 
feated Sweyn's fleet at Thiolarness, not far from 
Viborg, and when winter drew near, after some 
other operations, sailed north for Drontheim. 
The grudge between him and Einar's party had 
only slumbered during the summer to break out 
with fresh force in winter. Harold, who was 


always at work, had his hands full with building 
at Drontheim, where a new church in honour of the 
Virgin Mary was rising, but with his hands busy, 
his mind was full of forethought and care for the 
behaviour of his foes. His hand was heavy on 
the freemen, and Einar was their champion. To 
such a length did their feud go, that Einar's 
houses, both when at home, in the country, or in 
town, were filled with a little army of men. He 
had eight or nine war-ships, and about 600 
warriors always with him. At the head of such 
a company he rescued a thief whom the king had 
ordered to be hanged, merely because the culprit 
had once had shelter under his roof, and found 
favour in his eyes. On another occasion they 
had a worse quarrel. It happened once, as it 
often happened, says the Saga, that a ship came 
to Drontheim district, and ran up to Niftaros. It 
was a ship from Iceland, and aboard was an 
Icelander of little goods. He had the watch by 
night on their ship, and when men were all fast 
asleep, he saw two men go stealthily up a hill 
hard by with spades and mattocks, and they fell 
a-digging, and he knew they were seeking for 
hidden treasure. So he left the ship and came 
on them unawares, and he saw they had dug up 
a chest full of money. So he spoke to the man 
who was their chief, and whose name was Thor- 
finn, " How much wilt thou give me to keep your 


secret as to finding this money?" "How much 
dost thou ask }" says Thorfinn. "No more than 
three marks weighed, but if ever I am in need of 
money then thou shalt give me as much more." 
Thorfinn agreed to these terms, and weighed him 
down the three marks, but when they opened the 
chest, there on the top, close up, lay a big ring 
and a heavy necklace. The Icelander saw runes 
scored on the chest, and the writing said that 
Earl Hacon had owned those goods. So they 
parted after that. The Icelander went back to 
his ship, but Thorfinn became a very wealthy 
man in a very short time. Then he was called 
Thorfinn the Chapman, for he had money out in 
almost every voyage and venture, and he dressed 
himself most gorgeously, and got to be a 
famous man. But the Icelander was unlucky, 
and lost all his goods, and so some summers 
after he went to see Thorfinn, and begged him to 
give him some money, but he made as though he 
knew him not, and said he had no claim to any 
money from him. Then the Icelander went to 
Einar Paunchshaker, and bade him for his coun- 
tenance, and said he was without a penny, as was 
quite true. He meant to repay him for his kind- 
ness by telling him of the treasure-trove, for he 
thought it only right that Earl H aeon's heirs 
should have the money if they got their rights. 
But time went on, and he did not tell, and it 


slipped out of his mind, but he stayed with Einar 
that winter. But when summer began, and men 
were getting ready for their journeys, Einar 
asked what plans the Icelander had. He said 
he scarce knew what was best to do. He was 
without a penny in the world, but what he should 
like best would be to fare to Iceland. "That's 
best after all," said Einar ; " I will give thee food 
to last out the voyage, and, beside, a chest full 
of wares ; 'tis but little goods, but yet with them 
thou mayest buy thyself some needful things." 
So the Icelander thanked him for his kindness 
and went away, but he still said never a word 
about the treasure. He went down to Niftaros, 
and tarried there, and took a passage to Iceland. 
King Harold was then in the town, and one day 
when men came out of church, the king said, 
" Who is yon lordly-dressed man who is walking 
along the street?" They told him it was Thor- 
finn the Chapman. Then the king went on : 
" Many strange things come about, and not the 
least wonderful is how such men get together 
such great wealth in so short a time, and are as 
rich as Jews in few years, though before they 
were well-nigh beggars." So the king sent after 
him, and bade him come and see him ; and when 
he came, the king asked whence all that money 
came which he had got together in a little while. 
He was loath to say, and made this and that 


excuse, how he had saved it in trading voyages ; 
first of all by lending and borrowing, and from 
partnership with other men ; but at last the end 
was that he had to tell the truth. But when the 
king heard that, he made them take from Thorfinn 
all his goods and the money which he had with 
him, and which he had out at venture alike, and 
confiscated it to himself, and after all he said, he 
treated Thorfinn better than he was worth, in 
that he was neither slain nor hanged on a tree. 
A little money the king left him, and so Thorfinn 
went away out of the land. Now it came into 
the Icelander's mind that he had held his peace 
rather too long as to the finding of the treasure, but 
still he went and found Einar, and told him the 
whole story. Then Einar said, "This matter 
would have taken a better turn for thee and for 
all of us, if I had had the first chance of getting 
these goods before the king laid his hand on 
them ; for now it is no easy thing to strive with 
him about it ; but we should have had Thorfinn 
utterly in our power, and yet he would have been 
better off than he now is. And as for thee, Ice- 
lander, thou canst be not at all a lucky man, so 
fair as thy lot seemed at first. But still thou 
shalt have some silver of me, and then fare away 
out to Iceland, and never come back to Norway 
while Harold is king over the land." So they 
parted there and then. A little while after, Einar 


came down to the town with a great company of 
his kinsmen and friends, and he made his way to 
where the king was in church ; but when the 
king came out of church, Einar turned to meet 
him, and greeted him, and asked if he had laid 
his hands on those goods and money which 
Thorfinn the Chapman had found. He said, " So 
it was ; for that," he went on, " is the law of the 
land, that the king shall own all that money and 
treasure which is found in the earth." "Very 
true," said Einar, " if men do not know who has 
owned it ; but now, I trow, that Eindridi, my 
son, and Bergliot, his mother, own all heritage 
after Earl Hacon, and that is why I think I have 
a right to take these goods which he owned of 
yore." Then Einar told the signs and tokens, 
both as to the runes and precious things them- 
selves, how Earl Hacon had owned this treasure ; 
" And," says he, " if thou wilt not give it up, then 
we will not spare to seek for it by main force, 
and do ye guard it if ye will." " Mighty art 
thou, indeed, Einar," said the king, "for now 
art thou king over the land rather than I, though 
I bear the king's name." Then well-meaning 
men took part in the quarrel, and so took care 
that no harm came of it, and then all the treasure 
was handed over to Einar ; and so they parted, 
and they were still called friends by the good 
dealing of their friends. 


After this quarrel, in which the law of treasure- 
trove as belonging to the Crown is laid down as 
precisely as though it were uttered by some high 
prerogative lawyer of the present day, and which 
strongly illustrates the recent cases which have 
happened in England, Harold and Einar re- 
mained friends in name, but with the feud still 
rankling in their hearts. Against such a subject 
and others of his stamp Harold might well em- 
ploy a little Machiavellian kingcraft. It hap- 
pened that Harold had fast bound in prison 
some Danes,, whom the fortune of war had 
thrown into his hands. It was known to few 
that they were even alive — like Joseph in the 
Egyptian dungeon, they had gone clean out of 
mind, and been forgotten. To them Harold 
promised life and liberty if they would do his 
bidding. That was to go round the country with 
forged letters in Sweyn's name and seal, and 
with a large sum of money which Harold gave 
them, and as they went from house to house to 
offer the chiefs and vassals money in Sweyn's 
name, as a bribe, to help him when he fell upon 
Norway, as he often threatened to do.* The Danes, 

* Munch, by an oversight, says the Danes had Sweyn's signet in 
their possession. That is at least unlikely, but the Saga says 
nothing of the kind. It says, " J?au (href) voru innsiglut undir 
nafni Sveins Danakonungs," which merely means that they were 
signed and sealed in Sweyn's name. In fact, they were a forgery 
of Harold's. 


for liberty, agreed to Harold's terms, and set out 
on their treacherous journey. It was a perilous 
proof to stand, and yet Einar stood it. What- 
ever might be his hatred to Harold he was true 
to Norway. His pride too was beyond a bribe. 
When the tempters came to him, told their 
errand, and showed him the money and letters, 
Einar said, "Tis known to all men that King 
Harold is no friend of mine, while King Sweyn 
often speaks of me in a friendly way, and wil- 
lingly would I be his friend. But if he comes 
hither into this land of Norway with a host to 
fall on King Harold, and harries his lands, I will 
withstand him with all my might, and stand 
by King Harold with all the strength I can 
get together and keep his land with him." With 
that noble answer the bribers went away to Step- 
Thorir in Gudbrandsdale and showed him the 
letter. " King Sweyn," said the fickle chief, 
" ever treats me in a kind and friendly way, 
and maybe that the spring of his bounty is not 
yet dry." With those words he took the money 
and kept it. After trying other great chiefs and 
vassals, some of whom stood the test well and 
some ill, the Danes came to the house of Hogni 
Longbjorn's son, a simple freeman, but well-to- 
do, and a man of many friends. He was worth 
winning, but when he saw the letters and the 
money, he said, " Methinks 'tis likely that King 


Sweyn will set small store by me, in that I am 
but a boor of low degree ; but still there is but 
one answer to give in this matter. If King 
Sweyn comes with war and strife into this land 
of Norway, no boor's son will be a worse foe to 
him than I.' 1 On the whole, King Harold should 
have been well content with the report of his 
messengers. When he heard how well Einar 
had behaved, he said, " It was to be looked 
for that he would talk like a good man and 
true, but still it was out of little love to me. 
How fared ye with Step-Thorir r " The mes- 
senger said Thorir took the money and spoke 
fair words of both kings. " Ah," answered the 
king, " he is the last man out of whom one can 
get his mind as to anything." But when they 
told him how Hogni Longbjorn's son had an- 
swered, the king cried out, " There ye may see 
the making of a vassal." And now, says the 
Saga, King Harold knew where his friends lay. 
Against Einar he could neither say nor do any- 
thing. Thorir he tried to seize and punish, and 
even went unbidden to his house ; but the wily 
chief met him on the way, having had a hint 
that he was coming. Before the king could 
speak a word, he bade him to a feast that night, 
and thrusting a great bag of money into his 
hands, said, " This was brought by some Danish 
men who brought money and letters from King 


Sweyn. I only took it to keep it and hand it 
over to you, and here it is. Now I must go to 
settle a quarrel which has sprung up between 
my people, but I shall be back by evening." 
With that he rode off. To the feast he never 
came, and Harold had to confess that he had 
been entirely outwitted, and went away pro- 
phesying that Thorir's fickle temper would bring 
him sooner or later to a bad end. When he 
went to Hogni' s house and offered to make 
him a vassal and give him a fief, the proud but 
modest freeman answered, " I thank you, lord, 
for your friendship, and all that I can do for you 
I will ; but a vassal's name I will not have, for 
that I know that when the great vassals meet 
together it will be said, as is the truth, Hogni 
must sit last, he is least of vassals, because he 
is of boorish race, and then my vassal's name 
will bring no honour with it, for I shall be their 
laughing-stock. So I will rather be called a free- 
man, as is my right, and then I shall have 
honour in the speech of men, for then it will 
be said, though it is not much to say, when free- 
men meet together Hogni is the first of them. 
But all honour, goodwill, and friendship I will 
take with all my heart from you, and give back 
the same, though I be but a freeman, henceforth 
as hitherto." The king said that was a wise and 
noble answer, and so they parted with great love. 


But Harold, much as he feared Einar, could 
not help being touched at the way in which he 
had withstood temptation. He sent (1049-50) and 
begged him to come to the town of NiSaros, 
and made him a great feast. Einar came, and 
the king made him good cheer, and bade him sit 
next himself. At even, after they had eaten and 
the tables were taken away, the king and his 
Court sat down in a ring on the straw round the 
fire, and they drank and were merry. Down 
pillows were brought, and laid behind Einar and 
the king; and so they began to talk and jest, 
and Harold, a sure sign that he was in a good 
humour, fell to telling of his doughty deeds in 
foreign lands. Perhaps Einar had often heard 
them before, perhaps he only believed half of 
what he heard ; but he was old and fat, full of 
meat and drink ; it was not strange then that he 
began to nod and doze. The king went on, but 
he was not over-pleased. At last Einar was fast 
asleep. Then the fickle turn of Harold's heart 
showed itself, and he changed from mirth to 
anger, like an April day. It was all done to 
show how little Einar cared for him or his 
exploits, and that at the very time when he had 
softened his heart and lowered himself to try to 
be friends with him. All this rushed through 
Harold's mind ; and, besides, they had all drunk 
deep. So there old Einar sat, propped up by 



his pillow, sound asleep. Harold bent towards 
a near kinsman of his, named Griotgard, and 
whispered, "Take a wisp of grass, and twist it 
tight, and stick it in Einar's hand, and give him 
a good poke in the ribs, and call out in his ear, 
< Wilt thou to bed, Einar ? ' " Griotgard did the 
king's bidding, and Einar started up at the poke 
in the ribs and shout in his ear, and — what 
happened at the same time we cannot say, but 
it was something which, after all he had eaten 
and drunken, was not wonderful. Up jumped the 
king and left the hall, we may be sure with a 
laugh, and there Einar was left the laughing- 
stock of the Court, with the wisp of grass 
clenched in his hand. In those days such 
mockery was a deadly insult, for it made a 
great chief a niddering, and such shame could 
only be washed out by blood. But Einar went 
first to bed. As soon as day dawned, he broke 
into the loft where Griotgard slept, took him out 
and slew him. Thus the meeting which was to 
make them friends only ended in making them 
still worse foes, and the king's wrath was hot 
against the slayer of his kinsman, though even 
he might have granted that the man had fallen 
in his own wrongdoing. Common friends tried 
to patch this fresh quarrel up, and Harold 
seemed to listen to their advice ; but in his 
heart he had resolved to put an end to their 


strife by Einar's death, and though he bade him 
come and settle the terms of atonement, it was 
only to be sure of getting Einar into his hands. 
So Einar, followed by Eindridi, his son, and a 
great company of his followers, went down to 
the king's council or parliament chamber, on 
the banks of the river Ni3. Before he came, 
the king had settled his plan. In the chamber 
he was to be with a few trusty men, the rest of 
his Hird were close by in the courtyard. A 
black deed is best done in darkness, and the 
shutters which closed the louvre in the roof from 
the rain were drawn over it. What little light 
was left struggled through the narrow slits in 
the side wall. When Einar came into the yard, 
he said to Eindridi. " Stay thou here outside the 
hall with our force, so we shall be in no danger ; " 
for what the wary old chief most feared was that 
they should all be caught inside in a trap, and 
smoked or burnt to death. Such things had 
often happened, and might happen again. But 
Harold's plans were deeper laid. Einar went in 
without fear, trusting in the king's peace, and 
sure of retreat in case of danger. He stepped 
into the hall, with his eyes full of light, and, 
blinded by the sudden change from daylight to 
darkness, he cried out, " How dark it is in the 
king's council-chamber ! " Before the words 
were out of his mouth, Harold's followers fell 


on him cut and thrust. The old man strove to 
die hard. He made for the seat where Harold 
awaited him, and hewed at him with his axe, 
but here the king's wiliness foiled him. He had 
armed himself in two byrnies or shirts of mail, 
one no doubt being his darling "Emma," and 
the blow fell harmless. By that time Einar was 
sorely wounded. His last words were, "Now 
the king's hounds bite sharp." They were so 
loud that Eindridi heard them outside. Draw- 
ing his sword he rushed into the chamber only 
to fall by his father's side. Then the king's men 
outside rose up and held the door of the hall, 
and the freemen having lost both of their leaders 
at once scarcely lifted a hand. Yet they were 
egging each other on, saying it was a shame not 
to avenge their chief, but naught came of their 
attack. The king was not slow; he came out, 
put himself at the head of his men, set up his 
banner, and drew up his host in battle array. 
When he found that the freemen would not make 
an onslaught he made for his ships and his men 
with him, and they rowed as fast as they could 
out of the narrow stream into the broad firth. 

It was a bloody deed and a shameful deed, 
and well it was that the king got clear off before 
the freemen came to themselves. He had not 
counted the cost of such a treacherous murder. 
Bergliot, Einar's wife, hastened up to the hall 

VOL. 11. T 


as soon as she heard the ill-tidings, her heart 
bent on revenge more than grief, but as she 
reached it the king's ship was running out of 
the river. "Now," she cried, "we miss our 
kinsman Hacon Ivar's son ; Einar's banemen 
would never run out of the river were Hacon 
here." Then they took up both bodies and laid 
them by the side of King Magnus. Spite of all 
Einar's unruliness he was a man of noble 
patriotic mind. His claims as the freer of his 
country from foreign rule outweigh all that can 
be said against him ; and though his fall was 
needful that Norway might be brought to obey 
her king, the base way in which he was done to 
death brought at once a host of enemies on 
Harold's hands. 

Now Hacon Ivar's son, the gallant and the 
fair, was Einar's next of kin, and with him lay 
the feud of blood. Bergliot sent straight to him, 
and laid the claim for vengeance in his hands. 
Harold did not dare to show his face up the 
country, but made for Yrjar, at the mouth of the 
Drontheim Firth, where his kinsman by mar- 
riage, Finn Ami's son, the Arnmodling, lived, 
and who had hitherto been his fast friend. Him 
he tried to persuade to play the part of a 
mediator, and to soothe the feelings of Hacon 
and his friends, and Finn was well fitted for the 
task. He was the bosom-friend of Hacon, with 


whom he had been a Viking in the West ; may- 
be, too, he was not sorry, as one of the heads of 
a great house, to hear that another great chief 
had been laid low. At any rate he met the king 
kindly, and heard his story out. Finn was a 
man of sharp and bold tongue, nor did he spare 
the king in words. " Thou art the worst man I 
ever knew/' he said ; " first thou dost all kinds 
of ill, and afterwards thou art so scared* thou 
canst scarce tell which way to turn." But the 
king knew well which way to turn when he 
came thither. He answered with a laugh, " My 
errand, brother-in-law, hither, is to get thee to 
go up to the town and talk the freemen over, 
and set me at one with them ; and if that cannot 
be brought about, then I wish that thou shouldst 
go to the Uplands to Hacon Ivar's son, so that 
he may not stand against me." But Finn was 
not going on such an errand for nothing. The 
freemen were so enraged that it was at the risk 
of a man's life to take up the king's quarrel. 
" Only go, brother-in-law," said the king, " for 
I know thou wilt succeed if any man can, and 
choose a boon of me for going." Then Finn 
uttered what had long lain deep in his heart, 

* Harold, with all his well-known braver)', had been accused of 
cowardice before by Haldor Snood's son, a man more outspoken 
even than Finn, when he and Harold had their passage of words 
in Sicily. 


" Keep now thy word, king, and I will choose 
my boon, and at once I choose pardon and peace 
in Norway for my brother Kalf, and that he shall 
have back all his land and goods, and along 
with them all rank and title and power that he 
had ere he fared out of the land." In his need 
the king agreed to that, though Kalf had been a 
greater man in his day than Einar, and he might 
think he had only got rid of one enemy to bring 
a worse foe in his stead. So that was witnessed, 
and the bargain struck. Then Finn went on to 
ask what he should offer to Hacon to let the 
king have peace, for now he had stepped into 
Einar's place as to influence over the Dront- 
heimers. "First learn/' said the king, "what 
he asks, and then make the best terms for me 
that thou canst. If the worst comes to the worst, 
stand out for nothing but the kingdom." After 
that the king went south to the district of 
Mceren, and waited to see what would come 
of it. 

So Finn set out with near eighty of his house- 
hold at his back, and when he came to NrSaros, 
he held a meeting of the householders and free- 
men. Then he made them a long and clever 
speech, and bade them think of all the trouble 
they had brought upon the land by killing King 
Olaf. As for Harold, he was ready to make 
handsome atonement, in fact to do all that good 


men and true might ask. When Finn had done 
speaking, the freemen said they were willing to 
let things stand as they were till the messenger 
came back whom Bergliot had sent to Hacon 
Ivar's son in the Uplands. Now Finn lost no 
time ; he made Orkadale, with his men, then cut 
across over the Dofrafell, and so got to the 
Uplands. First he went to his son-in-law, Earl 
Orm, a great friend of Hacon, and told him his 
errand. Then they both called Hacon to meet 
them, and Finn told him that he had come on 
Harold's part to offer an atonement to stay the 
blood-feud. At first Hacon would say little but 
that he was bound to avenge Einar, and meant 
to do so. All he heard from Drontheim showed 
him that he should have force enough and to 
spare to cope with the king. "Well," said 
Finn, " as thou pleasest; but think how much 
better it will be to take as much honour from the 
king as thou thyself choosest to ask, rather than 
run the risk of raising a band to march against 
.the king, to whom thou art already bound by 
ties of fealty. Thou mayest lose the day, and 
then both life and lands are forfeited ; but even 
if thou conquerest King Harold, thou wilt be 
called a traitor to thy liege lord, and be left 
alone and hunted from the fellowship of all good 
men." Earl Orm backed Finn in all he said, 
and Hacon thought twice about it. At last he 


also brought out what lay deep in his heart, for 
Hacon too had his price. " I will take an atone- 
ment from King Harold, and be ^friends again 
with him, if he will give me to wife his kins- 
woman, Ragnhilda, King Magnus's daughter, 
with such dower as suits her rank, and she her- 
self chooses.'" "I agree to that at once," said 
Finn; so that bargain was struck also. Then 
Finn fared back to NrSaros, having done his 
errand well and deftly, and took up his abode 
there ; all that strife and feud settled down, and 
Harold came out of his great strait, and held his 
realm in peace. " And all men said that Hacon 
Ivar's son was a greater man than ever his 
father Ivar the White had been, though he had 
been a great vassal under St. Olaf, who set great 
store by him." 

Harold had now two promises to fulfil, one to 
Hacon in Ragnhilda's marriage, and one to 
Finn as to his brother's return. The first he 
was not able to keep at once, for the princess 
was yet a child. But Kalf came from Orkney, 
where he had stayed for years in exile with his 
brother-in-law Earl Thorfinn, as soon as ever he 
heard that the ban was raised. He was at once 
restored to all his rank and lands. This was in 
1050 or early in 1051. The summer after Harold 
showed how he could keep his word to the ear 
but break it in deed. He sailed for Denmark, 


as was his wont, to waste the Danish shores. 
This year the island of Funen was his prey, but 
the islanders gathered force enough to do battle 
for their goods ; and Harold sent Kalf, who was 
one of the first warriors of his time, at the head 
of a band up the country, telling him that he 
would soon follow. Kalf obeyed, but only to 
meet a far greater force. Trusting to Harold's 
word, he fell on them, was soon overpowered, 
and forced to fly, for Harold never came. 
Driven headlong to^ the beach, many fell in the 
rout, and amongst them Kalf, fighting bravely 
to the last. All this time Harold had never left 
his ships, and it looked as though he had meant 
Kalf to fall into the enemy's hands, and had left 
him in the lurch. Finn raised loud complaints, 
and many said he must have been silly, know- 
ing Harold's character so well, to have thought 
that he would ever abandon his thirst for 
vengeance. Harold himself let them talk on. 
Nor did he care to conceal his joy that another 
great chief had fallen. In a moment of exulta- 
tion he burst out into a song, in which he 
boasted that thirteen of his foes had bit the dust 
since he came back to Norway. It was hard to 
be forced to kill, but the wickedness and spite 
of some folk left him no choice. Who the thir- 
teen victims were is doubtful, their names are 
untold, but no one then doubted that Einar, 


Eindridi, and now Kalf, were to be reckoned 
among them. Nor was. he rid of his foes by 
death and murder alone. Finn, the great chief, 
who had done him such great service and got 
so poor a meed, enraged at his brother's death, 
left land and goods in Norway, and fled to 
Sweyn (1051), who made much of him, gave him 
the title of Earl, and sent him to guard Halland, 
the border-land between the two kingdoms, 
against his own countrymen. So it was, as we 
have already said, that Sweyn' s strength was 
recruited by Norwegian outlaws, and the attempt 
to bring in order at home only swelled the 
enemy's ranks. Many others followed the ex- 
ample set them by Finn. " In those days," says 
the Saga, " the vassals in Norway were so over- 
bearing and quarrelsome, that as soon as ever 
they disliked anything that the king did they 
fled away out of the land to King Sweyn, south 
in Denmark, and then he made mighty men out 
of them, and to some he gave good gifts. "Well 
might Skald Thiodolf sing of the faithless band, 
who had broken their faith and deserted their 
lord for Sweyn's service, and declare that their 
shameful deeds would long be borne in mind." 
But even Thiodolf, when off his stilts, must have 
owned that it was Harold's hard and over- 
bearing system, and the merciless way in 
which he worked his purpose out, that drove 



the best and bravest of his subjects out of the 

He was now to part with another of his 
friends, where the fault was certainly not on his 
own side. We have already spoken of his old 
comrade, the Icelander, Haldor, Snorri's son, 
and of his sharp tongue. Some time before the 
events which have just been told took place, 
Haldor had a fit of home-sickness. " He was," 
says the Saga, " a tall man in growth, and fair 
of face. One of the strongest and most daring 
of men, and best skilled in arms. King Harold 
bore witness that of all men who had been with 
him Haldor was the one who least showed any 
change of feeling ; whether it were risk of life or 
joyful tidings that came upon him he was never 
one whit gladder or less joyful. He never took 
his meat and drink more or less kindly than 
was his wont whatever befell, were it foul or 
fair. Haldor was a man of few words, short- 
spoken, out-spoken, sulky-tempered, and un- 
yielding ; quarrelsome in all things with whom- 
soever he had to deal, and that suited King 
Harold ill when he had men and enough to 
choose from, so they hit it off badly after Harold 
was king in Norway." At first, however, they 
were very good friends ; but as soon as Harold 
was well seated on the throne, Haldor grew less 
and less glad, and at last the king asked him 


what he had on his mind. " My heart is set on 
going to Iceland, Lord," answered Haldor. 
" Well," said the king, " many a man might 
have longed for home sooner; but where are 
your goods, and how stand your money mat- 
ters ?" " That is soon said," answered Haldor, 
"for the clothes I stand in are all I have." 
" Little meed for long service and much risk," 
answered Llarold. " I will get thee a ship and 
lading, and then thy father shall see that thou 
hast not served me for naught." So Haldor 
thanked the king, and a few days after the king 
asked him how many shipmates he had got. 
" Oh," said Haldor, " all the chapmen had 
already taken their passages, but as for me I 
can get no men, and so I fear that ship which 
you gave me must stay behind, for she has no 
crew." "Then my gift is not worth much," 
answered Harold; "we must wait a while and 
see how we can manage for a crew." Next day 
the horns blew to call a meeting in the town, 
and the news ran that the king had something 
to say to the townsfolk and chapmen. The king 
came late to the folkmoot, and drew a very long 
and thoughtful face when he did come, and when 
he came he said, " We hear that strife and war 
has arisen in our realm away east in ' the Bay/ 
King Sweyn is there at the head of the Danish 
host, and will do us harm and scathe, but we 


will by no means give up our land, and for that 
sake we lay a ban against all ships leaving the 
land before I get what I want out of every ship, 
both in men and stores, save only one galley of 
no great burden, which Haldor, Snorri's son, 
owns, and which is bound to sail to Iceland. 
And now, though this may seem rather hard to 
you who have already made ready to sail, still 
need drives us to such imposts ; but we thought 
it better that all should bide for better times, 
and then every man may fare as he likes." 
After that the folkmoot broke up, and when 
Haldor and the king met a little while after, the 
king asked whether he had got any shipmates. 
" More than enough and to spare/' answered 
Haldor, " for many more come to me than I can 
make room for, and these come so thick upon 
me that my house-door is almost broken in by 
their knocks. I have rest neither day nor night/' 
" Keep now those shipmates with whom thou 
hast made thy bargain, and leave the rest to 
me." Next day there was another blast for a 
folkmoot, and then the king came quickly 
enough. He was the first on the spot, and his 
face was bright and cheerful. He stood up at 
once, and said : — " Now I have good tidings. It 
was naught but falsehood and lies all that story 
about the war a day or two ago ; and now our 
will is that every man should sail away with his 


ship whithersoever he likes, and come all of ye 
back next autumn and bring us back costly 
things, and instead ye shall all have from us 
goodness and friendship." All the chapmen 
were overjoyed at that, and said he was the best 
king that ever lived. So Haldor fared out to 
Iceland that summer, and was there with his 
father, and he came back the summer after and 
went back to King Harold's Hird, and so it is 
said that Haldor was then not so willing to fol- 
low the king as he had been before, and he sat 
up on evenings after the king went to bed. 

This voyage of Haldor's seems to have been 
in 1048, just before Harold's first cruise against 
Sweyn. In 1049 he came back, and now it was 
that his quarrels with Harold began. The 
winter of 1050-51 Harold spent in Drontheim, 
after Finn Ami's son had reconciled him with 
the freemen, and there in his Hall at NrSaros the 
king kept high state at Yule. Among the king's 
Hird was one Thorir Englandfarer, for he had 
been a chapman and sailed to many other lands, 
but most to England, and he had brought back 
the king many costly things. But he was old, 
a»nd said to the king, " I am an old man, as ye 
know, and I am weary with years ; methinks I 
am quite unfit to follow the customs of the Hird 
in drinking toasts and memories, as well as in 
other things that thereto belong, and so I must 


look out for some other home, though 'tis best 
and merriest to be with you." " Easy to find 
a way out of this strait, friend," answered the 
king ; " stay still with the Hird, and drink no 
more than thou wilt, by my leave." There was 
another man from the Uplands, Bard by name, a 
good man and true, and not old. He was in 
great love with King Harold, and they three, 
Thorir, Bard, and Haldor, all sat on one bench. 
Now one evening, just as the king passed by 
them along the hall, as they sat and drank, 
Haldor gave up the horn. It was a big bull's 
horn, and well pared and polished, so that one 
could see clearly through it, and Haldor had 
fairly drunk his half with Thorir, but Thorir w T as 
long in draining the rest. The king fancied from 
the time the old man took that Haldor had 
shirked his drink, and he said sharply, " How 
long it is before some men are found out, Haldor, 
when now thou art a dastard at thy drink against 
this old man, and yet runnest out late at night 
after light women and dost not follow thy king 
as of yore." Haldor gave him no answer, but 
Bard saw that he was hurt, and next morning 
he rose at dawn of day and went to see the 
king. "Well! thou art an early riser, Bard," 
said the king. " Yes," answered Bard, " I am, 
and I am come to scold you, Lord. You spoke 
harshly and unfairly yestereen to Haldor your 


friend, when you blamed him for drinking like 
a laggard, for the horn was with Thorir. Haldor 
had drunk his share; nay more, when Thorir 
was about to bear it back to the cask, Haldor 
took it and drained it more than half. That is 
also the biggest lie when ye said that he went 
about with light women by night ; but still if his 
friends could choose, he would be a closer fol- 
lower to you than he is." Harold said he and 
Haldor would soon make it up when they met. 
So Bard went and told Haldor that the king 
spoke nothing but good of him, and that he 
must not mind if the king threw such words 
about, for it was more jest than earnest. Still 
time went on and the feud lasted. But when 
Yule came then fines and forfeits were laid down 
as was the wont at Yule ; and one morning there 
was a change in ringing for matins, for the king's 
candleswains gave the sacristan money to ring 
far earlier than was the wont. So Haldor was 
caught and many more ; and so they had to sit 
in the straw all day, and at night were to drink 
out their forfeits. But Haldor would do no such 
thing, he sat sulking in his seat while the others 
were down in the straw. Still they handed him 
the horn of forfeit which every man that was 
fined had to drain, but he said he would not 
drink it. So the king was told. " It can't be 
true," said the king ; " he will take it if I hand 


it him ; " so he took the horn and went up to 
Haldor with it. Haldor stood up and the king 
handed him the horn and bade him drink it off. 
"As for that," said Haldor, "I think myself 
never a whit more worthy a fine because ye 
choose to play tricks, and change the ringing to 
matins just for the sake of making men pay 
forfeits." "Still drink the horn thou must," 
said the king, " no less than other men." 
"Maybe you will have your way," answered 
Haldor ; " but Sigurd Sow would never have 
forced Snorri the Priest to do such a thing if it 
were against his will." So he seized the horn 
and drank it off ; but the king was very wroth 
and went back to his seat. But when the eighth 
day of Yule came then men had their pay given 
them, and that silver was called Harold's bits, 
it was most part copper ; but when Haldor took 
his pay he turned it over into the lap of his cloak 
and looked hard at it, and it seemed to him as 
though the silver in which he was paid was not 
pure, and he tossed it up with his left hand un- 
derneath his cloak and down fell the silver into 
the straw. " Now thou hast done ill," said Bard, 
"for the king will think it an insult when his 
pay is treated as dross." " Nothing will come 
of it," answered Haldor ; " there's little risk of 

After Yule the king bade them get ready his 


ship and meant to go south, but Haldor would 
not busk himself for the voyage. "Why wilt 
thou not busk thyself? " asked Bard. " Because 
I don't mean to go at all," answered Haldor. 
" I see the king loses no love on me." " But he 
must wish thee to go," said Bard, and with that 
Bard went off to the king. He could not afford 
to lose such a hand at the helm, he said. " Go 
and tell him that I say he must go," said the 
king, " and say besides, ' our feud is all fun and 
there is nothing earnest in it/ " So Haldor went 
at the prayer of Bard, and took his station near 
the helm as pilot. One night as they sailed 
along, Haldor called to the man who steered the 
king's ship, " Down with your helm." " Keep 
your course," cried the king. Again Haldor 
called out the second time, " Let her fall off." 
But the king again called out, " Steady, keep 
straight on your course." " Well ! " said Haldor, 
"you are steering right for a reef." He had 
scarce spoken when they ran so hard on the 
rocks that she knocked off her keel and a hole 
in her bottom, and they had to get her off and 
lay her up on shore by the help of other ships, 
and they lay on land in tents till the ship was 
repaired. Next morning Bard woke up to find 
Haldor busy packing up his baggage, " Whi- 
ther away now, foster-brother ? " he asked. " I 
mean to get on board a trading ship that lies off 


here," said Haldor, " maybe our chimneys will 
now smoke far apart if we each go on our way, 
for I do not wish the king to spoil his ships or 
other treasures only to put me in the wrong." 
" Bide a while, messmate," answered Bard, " till 
I go and see the king." "Early afoot, Bard," 
said the king. "So I need to be," said Bard, 
" for here is Haldor going off, and he thinks you 
have treated him scurvily, as is the very truth, 
and he says he can't get on with you any longer, 
and so he is going back to Drontheim to his own 
ship, and he will sail out to Iceland in wrath. 
Then that will be a sorry parting, for my mind 
is that you will hardly get another so faithful 
follower as he has been." The king said he did 
not see why they should not still be good friends. 
As for himself he thought little of all that had 
happened. But Bard when he went back with 
these kind words found Haldor still stubborn : 
"Why should I serve him any longer, when I 
can't even get my pay in pure silver ? " In vain 
Bard told him he was no worse off than other 
vassals and mighty men. " Well," said Haldor, 
"all I know is I have never been so hard dealt 
with in all my wanderings as by the king now 
about my pay." " True enough," said Bard. 
" Let me go to the king once more." After 
much trouble Bard got the king to go out of 
his way to please Haldor, and he soon brought 
VOL. 11. u 


him back his pay in pure silver of full weight, 
saying, "Now thou hast had thy wish." But 
Haldor had still something more to ask. He 
must have a war-ship to steer of his own. He 
would stay no longer on board the king's. 
" But where is a war- ship to come from ? " asked 
Bard. "The great chiefs and vassals will not 
give one up to please thee. Thou art too greedy 
of honour." Haldor held his own, and would 
not sail unless he had a ship. Bard went to the 
king and told him Haldor' s demand. "All I 
know," he said, " is, if all the crew are as trusty 
as the captain that will be great strength to the 
fleet." The king thought it was much to ask, 
but still he let Haldor have his way. But how 
to get the ship, for ships then, any more than 
" ironclads " now, were not made in a day. But 
Harold soon found one. He sent for Sweyn of 
Lyrgja, one of his vassals, and said, "Thou art a 
man of such mark, Sweyn, I must have thee on 
board my own ship." Sweyn was taken some- 
what aback. He thought the king had hitherto 
rather taken counsel of others than of him. 
Besides, there was his ship, what was to be- 
come of her ? " Haldor, Snorri's son, is to have 
her," said the king. " Well," said Sweyn, " I 
never thought thou wouldst let an Icelander rob 
me of my command." " His family," retorted 
the king, " is not worse in Iceland than thine is 



here in Norway. There are many too out there 
who have not to go far back in their pedigree to 
tell their descent from mighty and famous men 
in Norway; nay, it is no long time since that 
those who now dwell in Iceland were Norse- 
men." So the king had his way and Haldor 
got the ship, and the king steered for the Bay, 
and went about there to feast at his vassals' 

But one day as the king sat at meat, and 
Haldor with him, in came Haldor' s crew all 
dripping wet. Their story was that Sweyn and 
his followers had boarded Haldor' s ship and 
thrown them overboard. "Am I to own the 
ship you gave," asked Haldor, " or is that gift 
too not to be kept?" "Kept it shall be," said 
the king; and so he sent six ships along with 
Haldor to retake the ship. They found Sweyn, 
chased him away, and brought the ship back. 
Sweyn made his peace a little after by throwing 
the whole case into the king's hand, and by 
offering to buy back the ship from Haldor. 
When the king saw that Sweyn was willing to 
behave well, he bargained with Haldor for the 
ship, and paid him down there and then its full 
price in gold and burnt silver. Only half a mark 
of gold was left outstanding. So the winter wore 
away, but when spring came Haldor asked over 
and over again for his money, as he said he must 


sail away to Iceland. The king did not deny the 
debt, but he put off paying it from day to day, 
and made no show of stopping Haldor in his 
voyage. And now Haldor' s ship was "boun" 
for sea. He was only waiting for a breeze, and 
one evening late it came. He ran his ship at 
once out of the river, and then rowed back to 
land in a boat with a few men. He steered for 
the king's wharf, turned the boat and backed her 
in, and made one man hold her while the others 
lay on their oars, and so waited for him. Then 
he went up alone into the town with all his wea- 
pons, and so to the house where the king slept 
with the queen. There was a slight noise as he 
went in, and they both started up. The king 
called out who it was that broke in upon their 
rest at night. " Here is Haldor," was the answer ; 
" and now I am ' boun ' for my voyage, and there 
is a rattling breeze ; 'tis high time to pay that 
money which is outstanding." " That can't be 
done so quickly," said the king. "Bide till 
morning, and then we will pay it." " I will have 
it now, at once," said Haldor. " I will not turn 
away this time on a bootless errand. I know 
thy temper well, and that thou wilt not like my 
behaviour in coming to fetch this money, how- 
ever you may feign to like it now. And for the 
time to come I shall put little trust in thee. It 
is not at all clear that we shall now see each 


other so often that I shall ever have a better 
chance. The game is now in my hands, and I 
will play it out. I see the queen has a goodly 
gold ring on her arm, let me have that." " Then," 
said the king, " we must fetch scales and weigh 
the ring." " No need of that," answered Haldor, 
" I'll take it as it is instead of my debt ; and now 
have done with thy prating. Hand it over at 
once." Then the queen said, " Let him have the 
ring as he asks. Seest thou not that he stands 
over thee with his heart full of murder." So she 
took off her ring, and gave it to Haldor. He 
took it, thanked them both for paying his debt, 
and wished them long life. Then down he went 
speedily to his boat, and his men pulled lustily 
at their oars, and rowed out to his ship. They 
weighed anchor at once, and hoisted sail. They 
had hardly weathered the point, ere they heard 
the blast of horns in the town, and the last thing 
they saw was three war-ships launched which 
stood out after them. There was a roaring breeze, 
and the galley soon walked over the water ; and 
so when the king's men saw that Haldor was 
drawing away, they tacked and turned back, but 
Haldor stood out to sea, and so they parted. 
Haldor had a fine voyage to Iceland, and he and 
King Harold never saw each other again. When 
he got to Iceland, he set up his abode at Hjar- 
Sarholt, the great house built by Olaf the Pea- 


cock, in Laxdale in the West. Some winters 
after Harold sent him to come back and live with 
him, and gave him his word if he came that his 
honour should never have been more, nor would 
he set any man higher in all Norway of simple 
birth than him. Only let him come and see. 
But the wary Haldor knew his man, and was not 
to be trapped so easily. His answer was, " I 
will not fare back to King Harold. Each of us 
must now hold what he has gotten. I know his 
temper, and I know well that he would keep his 
word when he said he would set no man higher 
in Norway than me if I would come to him ; for 
he would hang me up on the highest gallows if 
he could have his way." So Haldor stayed at 
home. Later on, when Harold's days were draw- 
ing to a close, it is said he sent word to Haldor 
to send him over some fox-skins to throw over 
his bed, for the king felt he needed warmth at 
night. And when Haldor heard the message, 
his first words were, "The old cock is getting 
old, is he r" But he sent him the skins. So 
there Haldor, Snorri's son, lived at HjarSarholt, 
and died an old man. 

In all this story it is plain if there was any 
tyrant it was Haldor and not Harold. But 
Haldor was an Icelander ; there lay the secret of 
his influence with Harold. Nor was it Haldor 
alone and Ulf Ospak's son whom he treated with 


favour as his brothers in arms. While he was 
stern to all his countrymen, all Icelanders were 
welcome. Just as in other times in other lands, 
foreigners are often well treated, while native 
talent goes unrewarded. It is true that the Ice- 
landers well deserved all the favour that they 
got ; none were bolder sailors, or more dauntless 
warriors ; none had so sharp and biting wit ; 
none had such good breeding ; none such stately 
presence. Above all, none had such literary 
talent ; none guarded more jealously their old 
songs and stories ; none could clothe the gallant 
deeds of mighty captains in such soul-stirring 
verse. They had the literature of the North, and 
all its treasures, both in story and verse, in 
their keeping, and they kept it well. That was 
not the age of writing, but of telling and recit- 
ing, and of both arts the Icelanders were masters. 
So much so, that in a little while the other 
nations of the North stood by, as it were, and 
left all poetry and all saga- telling in the hands 
of the islanders of the West, who thus became 
the great depositories of the early literature of 
the North. This at first handed down from 
mouth to mouth, was afterwards handed down in 
books as soon as oral tradition gave way to writ- 
ing. But Harold's age was still that of telling. 
The art of writing sagas and composing written 
song only came half a century after his death. 


This alone was enough to make Harold, himself 
a great Skald, treat Icelanders well, and his his- 
tory is full of striking stories about this or that 
Icelander. This was the best warrior, that the 
most amusing jester and buffoon ; one refused 
him a white bear, which he meant to give to 
King Sweyn ; and when Harold generously for- 
gave the slight, and allowed him free passage to 
the hostile land, the Icelander, not to be outdone 
in good feeling, brought back a costly golden 
armlet which Sweyn had given him, and so the 
story of Audun and his white bear rang through 
the North, and was handed down to all time, 
linked with the noble bearing of both the 
kings, who, in this case, vied with each other in 
generosity. Nor was it so with this or that Ice- 
lander alone. Harold was the friend of the whole 
island, as St. Olaf had been before him. Olaf, 
indeed, tried to win them to Christianity, but 
Harold strove to win them for himself. No Nor- 
wegian king had ever been so beloved in Iceland, 
for no king ever showed more kindly feeling for 
them. So it was that later on, in 1056, when the 
great hard time and famine came upon the 
island, and men ate whatever teeth could touch, 
and many were starved to death, Harold sent 
four ships laden with food to Iceland, just as in 
Ireland's need ships came so freighted across the 
Atlantic, and that food was sold to all buyers at 


a low price. He gave them a bell for their 
church at Thingvellir, where the Althing was 
held, for which St. Olaf had before sent the 
timber. On both sides the relation was a kindly 
one, and it was likely to last, for it was profitable 
to both. To Haldor, Snorri's son, Harold owed 
much. He not only had fought for him, but he 
handed down the memory of his deeds. Even 
when Harold was still alive, he was struck at the 
wonderful way in which Thorstein the learned, a 
young Icelander, who was his guest, was able to 
tell the king's adventures. "It could not be 
truer told," said the king. " Who taught thee to 
tell it r" "When I was at home in Iceland," was 
the answer, " it was my wont to go year by year 
to the Althing, and there I learned it all by 
heart, each year a bit from Haldor, Snorri's son." 
" Ah ! " said the king, " no wonder then thou 
knowest it so well ; but thou shalt have thy meed 
of memory. Stay with us as long as thou likest." 
In nothing more did the sullen Haldor show the 
trustworthiness of his race than that Harold him- 
self, with whom he was at daggers drawn, and 
whom he now no longer feared, could find no 
fault with the story of his adventurous life, as 
told by his old henchman out in Iceland at the 

The following little story of the king's dealing 
with an Icelander of another stamp is worth telling, 


because it shows in shorter space perhaps than 
many other stories of like kind, the unbounded 
liberality and open-handedness which made a long 
chapter in the gospel of that age, — " One summer 
there came from Iceland Brand, the son of Ver- 
mund, of Waterfirth. He was called Brand of the 
open hand, and that was a true byname. Brand 
ran with his ship right up to NrSaros. Thiodolf, 
Harold's Skald, was Brand's friend, and had 
often told the king of his liberality and high- 
mindedness. So when Brand came to the town, 
Thiodolf told the king he was come, and spoke 
again of his many friendships in Iceland, and of 
his great gifts. 'We'll soon put that to the 
proof,' said the king, 'whether he is so open- 
handed as thou sayest. Go and ask him to give 
me his cloak.' Thiodolf went and found Brand 
in a store-room, where he stood measuring linen. 
He was clad in a scarlet kirtle, and over all he 
had a scarlet cloak. He had thrown the strings 
of his cloak up over his head to keep his hands 
free, while he measured the linen. In the crick 
of his arm, that is, in the hollow of his arm, he 
had an axe with gold-studded haft. ' The king,' 
said Thiodolf as he came in, ' wishes to ask thee 
for thy cloak.' Brand went on with his work, 
and answered never a word, but he let the cloak 
fall back over his shoulders, and Thiodolf took it 
up and carried it to the king. The king asked 


what had passed between them ; he said that 
Brand had not uttered a word, and then Thiodolf 
went on to tell the king about his dress and 
work. The king said, ' Of a truth this is a high- 
minded man, and I daresay he thinks much of 
himself, since he had never a word to say. Go 
again and tell him that now I ask of him that 
gold-studded axe/ Thiodolf said, ' I don't much 
like going oftener, Lord ; I know not how he will 
take it if I crave the very weapon out of his 
hand.' ' Thou startedst this matter,' answered 
the king, * when thou saidst so much about his 
open-handedness both now and before, and so 
thou shalt go. Methinks he is a niggard if he 
denies me the axe.' So Thiodolf went and told 
Brand the king wished to have his axe. He 
stretched out the axe at once, and still said never 
a word. Thiodolf carried it to the king, and told 
him what had passed. ' It looks,' said the king, 
* as if this man really were more open-handed 
than most men. See how rich I get.* Go once 
more and say that I will have the kirtle he stands 
in ! ' Thiodolf : ' It beseems me not, Lord, to go 
on such an errand, maybe he will think that I 
am making game of him.' ' Go thou shalt,' said 

* This no doubt is the meaning of the words " ok heldr fenar 
mi," which Grimur Thomsen, who has done too little in this way, 
translates " se kun, hvor jeg beriges," in his excellent little book, 
" Udvalgte Sagastykker. Fordanskede af Mag." Grimur Thomsen : 
Copenhagen, 1846. 


the king. So Thiodolf went and told Brand the 
king would have his kirtle. Then Brand broke 
off his work, and stripped off his kirtle, but still 
said nothing. He tore one sleeve off it and kept 
it, but the kirtle he threw to Thiodolf, who bore 
it to the king. The king looked at it, and said, 
'This man is both wise and high-minded; 'tis 
easy to see that he tore off the sleeve to show 
that I had only one hand to be ever taking but 
never giving, but now go and fetch him.' So it 
was done ; Brand came, and the king made him 
good cheer, and gave him great gifts." 

Not less pleasant and lively was the way in 
which Harold came to know Stuf, one of the wit- 
tiest of the skalds. Stuf was the grandson of the 
famous woman, the heroine of the Laxdale Saga, 
Gudrun, Osvifs daughter, the wife of four hus- 
bands, who behaved worst to him she loved best, 
Kjartan, the son of Olaf the Peacock. His father 
was Thord Cat, whom Snorri, the Priest, fostered. 
Stuf was witty and learned, but like many bards 
he was blind. He left Iceland and came to Nor- 
way in Harold's time, and took up his abode with 
a well-to-do freeman in the Uplands. One day 
as men stood out of doors they saw a gallant 
company riding up to the house, and the freeman 
said, " I know not whether King Harold is looked 
for in these parts, but this band looks like his 
following," and as it drew near, they saw it was 


indeed the king. The farmer went up to the king 
and greeted him, and began to excuse himself for 
not being able to treat him so well as he would 
have done if he had known he was coming. 
" How couldst thou know," said the king, " that 
we were coming ? we ride up and down the land 
on our business, now here, now there. My own 
men shall look after our horses, and I will go in- 
doors." The king was in one of his best moods, 
and the farmer showed him the way in, and sate 
him down in the seat of honour. "Go in and out, 
goodman," said the king, "just as thou likest. 
Don't put thyself out about us." " Thanks," said 
the farmer, and went out, and then the king 
began to look about him, and saw a tall man sit- 
ting on the other bench, and asked him what his 
name might be. "My name is Stuf" (Stump) 
said the man. " A very queer name, scarcely a 
name at all," answered the king, " but whose son 
art thou?" "I am Cat's son," he said. "One 
just as odd as the other," said the king. " Pray 
what cat was that ?" " Guess for thyself, king," 
said Stuf, and laughed loud. "What art thou 
laughing at now ? " asked the king. " Guess 
again," said Stuf. "Methinks 'tis hard," said 
the king, " to guess thy thoughts, but I rather 
think thou wast wishing to ask what son my 
father was, and why thou laughedst was because 
thou durst not ask me that outright." " Rightly 


guessed," said Stuf. Then the king went on, 
" Sit a little further on the bench near to me, and 
let us have a talk/' He did so, and the king 
found him anything but a fool, and when the 
goodman came back and feared the king found 
it dull, the king said he was so pleased with his 
guest, "that he shall sit over against me this 
evening when we drink and pledge me in the 
horn/' When they went to bed, the king said he 
and Stuf should sleep in the same room, that he 
might amuse him. So Stuf and the king went 
into the room, and when the king was in bed, Stuf 
sang a short song, and when it was over, the king 
begged him to sing another ; and so they went 
on, Stuf singing and the king listening : at last 
the king said, " How many songs hast thou now 
sung?" "That I thought you would reckon," 
said Stuf. " So I have," said the king. " There 
were thirty of them, but why singest thou ditties 
and short pieces [flokka] and not dirges, which 
are longer ? " " As for that," said Stuf, " I know 
more dirges than ditties, and yet I have not sung 
half my ditties." " Thou art a learned man, in- 
deed," said the king, " but for whose ear are thy 
dirges meant when thou singest only ditties 
to me ? " " For thee, too," answered Stuf. 
" When so ? " asked the king. " When we next 
meet," he said. " Why then rather than now ? " 
asked the king. " Because in all fun and amuse- 


ment that belongs to me I wished you should 
like me more the longer you knew me." " Well, 
first of all we will go to sleep," said Harold. 

Next morning, when the king was going 
away, Stuf said, "Grant me a boon, king." 
" What is it ?" " Pass thy word before I ask it." 
" That is not much in my way," said the king, 
"but for the sake of the mirth and merriment 
we have had together I will run the risk." Then 
Stuf said, "The reason of my journey is this, 
I have a dead man's heritage to claim east 
in 'the Bay,' and I wish you to give me your 
letters-patent sealed with your seal, so that I 
may get the money without trouble." " I will 
do that willingly," said the king. "Ah," said 
Stuf, "but I have another boon to ask." "What 
is it?" "Pass your word before I ask." 
" Why," said the king, " thou art a strange fel- 
low, and no man has ever so bandied words with 
me before, but still I will run the risk." "I 
wish to make a song on you." " But," said the 
king, "hast thou any kinship with skalds?" 
"There have been skalds in my house," said 
Stuf; " Glum, Geir's son, was my father s grand- 
father." " Thou art a good skald indeed," said 
the king, " if thou canst ' make ' no worse than 
Glum." " My songs are not worse than his," 
said Stuf. "Well," said the king, "'tis like 
enough thou canst ' make,' thou art so learned a 


man, and so I will give thee leave to make 
something about me." Again Stuf said, " Wilt 
thou grant me a boon r " " What wilt thou ask 
now ? " said the king. " Pass thy word to me 
before I say it." "That shan't be," said the 
king; "far too long hast thou gone on saying 
the same thing ; tell me now on the spot." " I 
will be made thy Hird-man." " Twas well 
now," said the king, "that I did not give my 
word ; for I must first take counsel with the rest 
of my Hird, and hear what they say, But come 
north to me to NrSaros." So Stuf fared east to 
the Bay, and soon got the heritage which he 
claimed, when he showed the king's seal and 
letters. After that Stuf struck north to see the 
king, and Harold made him welcome, and with 
the consent of the men of the Hird, Stuf went 
into the king's band, and stayed with him some 
time. He made a dirge on King Harold's death, 
which is called Stufa, or Stuf s Dirge. It is ex- 
pressly said in the Saga of Harold's life, that 
Stuf's poem was based on what he had heard of 
his early adventures from Harold's own lips, 
and those of others who had been with him in 
the East. He sung how the whole land of 
Jewry had come into his power unwasted either 
by fire or sword, and how the Captain offered at 
the Holy Sepulchre and other halidoms in the 
Holy Land untold wealth in gold and gems. How 


he put down wrong and robbery in the land, and 
cut off thieves and robbers, and how he fared to 
Jordan and bathed there as is palmers' wont. 

But though there was often mirth and jollity 
in Harold's hall, and most of all when wit met 
wit, and he stood by as judge over the strife of 
words, we may be sure that he was not idle in 
the darkest period of his history, that, namely, 
which reaches from Finn Ami's son's flight, in 
105 1, to when Hacon Ivar's son claimed the 
hand of Ragnhilda, now no longer a child, in 
1 06 1. Every year, at least, we know that he 
went out on his summer cruise against Sweyn ; 
but besides these annual attacks, he found time 
in 1053 to sail against the Wends, on the east 
coast of the Baltic. In 1054 events happened in 
Scotland which turned Harold's eye thither, and 
he plumed his wings for a wider flight. We are 
so apt to take our history of this time from 
Shakespeare, that it is worth while to state the 
real facts. At this time Macbeth was king of 
Scotland, and had been king for nearly fifteen 
years. The later South Scottish annalists, whom 
Shakespeare followed, represent the North Scot- 
tish princes as rebels of transitory sway; but 
they were not rebels in that sense of the word. 
In fact, they were the more national dynasty of 
the two. The South Scots leant on England on 
condition of acknowledging the supremacy of 

VOL. 11. X 


her kings ; but the North Scots, led by the great 
Maormors of Moray, leant on the support of the 
Northmen settled in Orkney, in Caithness, and 
the Hebrides. The mightiest man in North 
Britain at that day was unquestionably Thorfinn, 
the great Orkney jarl, who owned only a 
nominal dependence to the kings of Norway, 
and was in other respects every inch a king. 
He was nearly allied to the old North Scottish 
dynasty, for his mother was a daughter of 
Malcolm Melbrigd's son, Maormor of Moray and 
king of Scotland, and grandson of Ruairi, the 
first Maormor of whom we hear. In 1029 Mal- 
colm Melbrigd's son died. He was succeeded 
by a usurper, whom the Northern Sagas called 
Karl, Hound's son,* but who is better known as 
the Malcolm Kenneth's son of the South Scottish 
annalists. With him Thorfinn could not live on 
good terms, the less because one of the first acts 
of the new king was to claim tribute from Thor- 
finn for Caithness. This county the Orkney earl 
thought fell to him by right of his mother, and 
he would not hear of tribute. Then followed 
bitter and bloody strife, which, after many hair- 
breadth escapes on either side, ended in a de- 

* One way of reconciling the discrepancy of these names is by 
supposing that the Northmen in derision only called Malcolm 
" Karl Hound's son," that is, " The Churl," the low-born king, 
" the son of the Dog," whom Thorfinn hunted to death. 


cisive battle on the banks of the Oikel, at Torf- 
ness, in which Karl-Malcolm was utterly routed. 
The South Scotch annalists say Malcolm was 
slain at Glammis by a band of conspirators, 
but with them all the opponents of the dynasty 
which ultimately won the day were rebels or 
conspirators. However that might be, Malcolm 
fell in 1034, either at or shortly after the battle 
of Torfness, and Thorfinn, now completely tri- 
umphant, followed the foe all the way to Fife, 
burning and wasting and slaughtering as he went. 
Duncan, Malcolm Kenneth son's, nephew, now 
called King of Scotland by his party, seems never 
to have been acknowledged in the north of the 
country. Under the English king he had Cum- 
berland as a fief, and he was married to a kins- 
woman of Earl Sigurd, Bjorn's son, the Si ward 
of Shakespeare. The death of Thorfinn's brother 
Brusi, who was joint-earl with him according to 
St. Olaf's settlement of their claims, rendered 
the great earl still more mighty in the North. 
But just as he thought himself absolute lord of 
Orkney and his conquests, a dangerous rival 
came upon him, just as Harold Sigurdson came 
on Magnus. 

The reader will remember that tall, fair-faced 
man, the fairest of men, who followed St. Olaf 
to Sticklestad, brought Harold out of the fight, 
and followed him to Russia. Earl Rognvald, 


or Ronald, was the son of Brusi, and Thor- 
finn's nephew, and he was something more. St. 
Olaf's settlement gave Brusi two-thirds of the 
Orkneys, and Thorfinn only one-third; but 
Brusi was a quiet man, and Thorfinn soon had 
all the islands under his rule, only undertaking 
to defend both his brother's share and his own. 
Earl Rognvald was a mighty warrior, as we 
have seen. He was now his father's heir to 
the two-thirds allotted by St. Olaf, strong in 
the settlement and friendship of the king, and 
strong as being the foster-brother of Magnus. 
Magnus, who, besides his love for Rognvald, 
wished to recover the supremacy of the Crown 
over the islands, gave Rognvald the two-thirds 
as a fief, and sent him back with three well- 
manned ships. Just as he came new trouble 
had broken out with the Scots. Thorfinn was 
in need of help from such a warrior as his 
nephew. It was the case of Magnus and Harold 
over again, only in reverse ; and the uncle gave 
up two-thirds of his rule to the nephew on con- 
dition that he should aid him in the war. So 
the two together went sea-roving, and Thor- 
finn's sway was soon spread over the whole west 
of Scotland down to Galloway, as well as over 
great part of Ireland. Cumberland, too, King 
Duncan's English fief, felt their fury ; and so 
successful were they that Thorfinn might well 



call himself Lord of Scotland. This was in 
1040; and just about that time an event hap- 
pened which still further strengthened him, and 
in which he no doubt had a hand. In that year 
Duncan was slain by Magbjo^r or Macbeth, 
Maormor of Moray, the son of Finnlaich, the 
son of Ruairi, and therefore a second cousin of 
Thorfinn' s mother. Thus it was that the older 
dynasty again overthrew the younger one ; and 
thus it was that, by the help of Thorfinn and his 
Northmen, Macbeth ruled in Scotland for seven- 
teen .years. As for Thorfinn, he held no fewer 
than nine earldoms in Scotland, all the Orkneys, 
Hebrides, and a great part of Ireland, from the 
Giant's Causeway nearly to Dublin ; for Dublin 
itself does not seem to have fallen into his 
hands. No doubt he thought an alliance with 
the great Norwegian House of the Arnmodlings 
would add further strength to his dynasty ; and 
so, just about the time that Duncan fell, he 
wooed and wedded Ingibjorga, the sister of Finn 
Ami's son. That was why when Kalf fled the 
land he steered straight for his brother-in-law in 
the Orkneys. It would be out of place to stop 
to tell of the quarrels which afterwards arose 
between Thorfinn and Rognvald. It is enough 
to say that the nephew was worsted and slain by 
the uncle ; that Thorfinn in vain tried to make 
his peace with King Magnus, shortly after 


Harold Sigurdson's return ; but that he was 
more successful with Harold, to whom the earl, 
now again (1053) threatened with trouble in all 
likelihood, swore an oath of fealty. The son of 
"the murdered Duncan" had fled to Cumber- 
land, and there found shelter with his kinsman 
Sigurd, first Earl of Huntingdon, and then Earl 
of Northumberland, who was near akin to King 
Sweyn. Trouble might always be looked for 
from that quarter, yet both Thorfinn and his 
kinsman and ally Macbeth found time for a pil- 
grimage to Rome about 1050, for in that year 
Marianus Scotus writes : " King Macbeth of 
Scotland gave alms to the poor in Rome, by 
sowing [seminando] and scattering his money 
through the streets." 

But in 1054 the storm which had been gather- 
ing across the English border burst on Thorfinn 
and Macbeth. The great rival of Earl Sigurd 
in his influence with King Edward had been Earl 
Godwin, who, half Saxon half Northman, tried to 
keep the balance between both the Northern and 
Saxon element of the population in his hands. 
With him, as we have seen, King Sweyn's 
brothers Bjorn and Asbjorn found shelter, and 
Bjorn was captain of the famous Northern or 
Danish militia called the Thingmannalid. One 
of Godwin's sons named Sweyn had been cast 
into exile for a deed of shame. His lands had 


been given to his brother Harold and Bjorn 
Ulf s son, and when he returned to claim them, 
though neither would give up his land, Bjorn 
offered to go with the culprit to the king and try 
to make peace. On the way Sweyn fell on his 
companion and treacherously slew him at Bosan- 
ham or Bosham in Sussex. But though Sweyn 
had again to fly for this dastardly deed, the 
Danish rule and party were so hated that not 
only was joy felt at Bjorn' s death, but the Thing- 
mannalid itself was shortly afterwards abolished 
by the advice of Godwin, who knew his own 
power would increase, as the Confessor's strength, 
which lay mainly in that famous body-guard, 
was weakened. With it all the Danes fell into 
disgrace, and Asbjorn had to fly the land, for 
Godwin who ruled the land had now taken part 
against them. This was between 1049-51, and 
Earl Sigurd, who, with Earl Leofric of Mercia, 
was Godwin's rival, had hard work as King 
Sweyn's kinsman to hold his own. But in 1053 
Earl Godwin died suddenly, and Sigurd's power 
was at once strengthened. He was not slow in 
using it. In 1054 Sigurd crossed the Border, 
and defeated Macbeth in a bloody battle on the 
Seven Sleepers' Day, July 27th. No fewer than 
3,000 Scots are said to have fallen, and with 
them, as it seems, Dolgfinn, one of Thorfinn's 
sons. Sigurd advanced as far as Dundee, when 


news came that trouble had arisen in Northum- 
berland, and that his son Asbjorn was slain. 
He turned back, but the Lothians and Fife were 
lost to Macbeth, and Sigurd gave them to Mal- 
colm as Duncan's heir.* Shortly after Sigurd 
died, 1055, and was buried, strangely enough, 
in a church dedicated by himself to St. Olaf, at 
Galmanho.f So far had the saint's vision been 
verified in twenty-five years. His successor in 
the earldom of Northumberland was Tostig, 
Godwin's son. But the war between Malcolm 
and Macbeth still lasted, and the North Scottish 
Maormor was driven farther and farther North, 
till in 1057 he lost his life and kingdom at Lum- 
phanan in Mar, in August or September. His 

* Munch (N. H. ii. 266, note) has unravelled this tangled skein. 
The Saxon chronicle, under the year 1054, Tighernach's Annals, 
O'Connor, ii. 299, and the Annals of Ulster, mention the battle. 
The last speak of " Dolfinn Finntor's son " as having fallen. 
Finntor is plainly a perversion of Thorfinn, and Dolgfinn is an 
Orkney name. Henry of Huntingdon, p. 760, Bromton {Twysden, 
p. 946), makes Sigurd send his son to Scotland before him to sub- 
due it. When he fell, the father, with thorough Viking spirit, 
asked on what part of his body he had got his death-wound. " On 
the breast." " 'Tis well," was Sigurd's answer; "else he had 
been unworthy of me." Fordun, v. 7, has confused the whole 
story, by making Sigurd slay Macbeth, and that is how Sigurd 
(Siward) has come into Shakespeare's tragedy. But Macbeth, as 
we shall see, fled on that day to fight on another, when he really 

f Sigurd bitterly lamented that he should die of a cow-sickness 
(issue of blood), and died clad in all his war gear. His banner, 
"Ravenlandeye," that is, " Rafn Landeyfta," " the raven waster 
of lands," he bequeathed to York Minster, where it was long kept. 


followers made his son Lulach their king, but he 
too was slain soon after at Esse in Strathbolgie, 
March 1058, and Malcolm Canmore, or Bighead, 
seized all that part of Scotland which Macbeth 
had ruled. Thorfinn suffered, we may be sure, 
with his ally, whose force was backed so strongly 
by England.* "We may readily understand, 
therefore, why he should turn to Harold, whom 
for this once he was willing to acknowledge as 
his liege lord in the hope of help. Thus it was 
that a Norwegian fleet led by Magnus, Harold's 
eldest son by Thora, showed itself in British 
waters. Magnus was but a youth, but older 
heads led the host, which wasted the English 
shores, and returned without doing much hurt. 
It was too late to help Thorfinn or save Macbeth, 
but it is memorable as being the first hostile act 
of Harold against England. Earlier, in 1043, 
he had sent an embassy to Edward and offered 
him peace and friendship, which the weak 
Saxon king willingly accepted ; now he had 

* The true chronology of these events is to be found in Marianus 
Scotus (Munch, ii. 266-7). This is his summary. Duncan reigned 
five years, from St. Andrew's Day, 1035, and so on till the Eve of 
the Feast of the Virgin's Birth, August 14, 1040. Then Macbeth 
seventeen years till the same feast, August 14, 1057. Then Lulach 
till St. Patrick's Day, 17th March, 1058, and then Malcolm twenty 
years. In this summary there is a confusion between the Assump- 
tion of the Virgin Mary, August 15th, and the Birth of the Virgin 
Mary, September 8th, so that we do not know whether Macbeth 
fell on the 14th of August or the 7th of September, 1057. 


drawn the sword it is true only to sheathe it 
again. But it was a token that the days were 
coming when the scabbard would be thrown 
away in a death struggle between the two 

We must now return to Norway. There, 
while these things were passing abroad, the 
feud with Sweyn still lasted, nor were things 
quite quiet at home. But Harold could still 
find time for a voyage round the North Cape 
to Bj arm aland, with the view no doubt of seeing 
how things went on in Helgeland and Finnmark, 
and showing the master's eye in that outlying 
part of his realm. In 1061 he ran his greatest 
risk from the Danes, for Harold having ventured 
with a small fleet into Limfirth in Jutland, was 
shut up in it as in a trap by Sweyn's ships, who 
blockaded the narrow gut at its mouth. But the 
old sea-rover was equal to the danger. Instead 
of trying to force his way out he ran his ships 
right up into the very bight of the firth. There 
there was but a narrow strip of sandy shore 
between him and the North Sea. Over this he 
drew his lightened ships in one dark night, and 
next morn was sailing on the west coast of 
Jutland, while his foes were waiting for him 
on the east. As he had in his youth escaped 
over the Greek Emperor's chain, so in his older 
days he got clear from King Sweyn and his ships. 


But while all these things were happening, 
Ragnhildahad grown to womanhood, and Harold's 
promise to Hacon, Ivar's son, was unfulfilled. 
Now Hacon pressed his suit, but Harold answered 
that his word indeed was pledged to give Ragn- 
hilda to Hacon, but it could only be with her 
own good-will. That Hacon must secure. When 
Hacon pressed his suit, the haughty maiden an- 
swered, " Now I feel well that King Magnus, my 
father, is dead and buried, when I am to be 
forced to wed a boor's son, however handsome 
and brave he may happen to be. Were King 
Magnus alive, he would never give me to any 
but one of princely birth, and I too will have 
none other for my husband." Hacon went to 
Harold and said, that as Ragnhilda must have a 
title, and the king was bound to keep his word, 
he ought to make him an earl, to which rank 
he had every claim. "St. Olaf, my brother," 
answered the king, " and Magnus the Good too, 
laid down the rule never to have more than one 
earl at a time in their realm," That rule he 
meant to keep as well as his word, and so long 
as Earl Orm of the Uplands lived, he would not 
make another, for he could not rob him of his 
rank to give it to Hacon. Hacon, in a rage, fol- 
lowed the example set him by so many others, 
and betook himself to Denmark, where Sweyn 
made him welcome with the rest, and gave him 


the rank he coveted on the Wendish border, 
granting him at the same time great fiefs. But 
his service was to be rendered rather by sea 
than on land. 

So things stood in the winter 1061-62, when 
Harold, weary of the war, and determined 
to try and fight it out once for all, sent and 
challenged Sweyn to mortal combat in a sea- 
fight. He fixed the place of meeting at the 
mouth of the Gottenburg river, and the winner 
of the day was to be king over both realms. We 
hear nothing of Sweyn' s answer, but Harold 
made him ready in earnest. Some time before 
he had laid down a huge ship, and early that 
summer she was launched. The king's skalds 
were warm in her praise, and no doubt she was 
a wonder of strength and speed. In her Harold 
embarked, and with him went his Queen Thora ; 
both his sons, Magnus and Olaf, were in the 
fleet; Magnus, we know, sailing his own ship. 
Many great chiefs were with him. First and 
foremost Ulf, his trusty marshal ; Eystein the 
Gorcock, and Thorold Mostrarskegg. When 
they reached " the Bay," the fleet was scattered 
by a storm, but they joined company again with- 
out much loss. So they made for the Gottenburg 
river, and there at Thumla, near Hisingen, the 
sea-fight was to be. But no Sweyn was to be 
seen. Still Harold knew that he was not far off. 


The crafty Dane was waiting till the half month 
was over, during which the freemen's levy was 
only bound to serve ; and as soon as Harold 
found himself forced to send home those who 
came from the farthest north, the whole Danish 
fleet set sail to fall on him. The Norwegian 
fleet was only 1 80 ships strong, mostly made up 
of vessels belonging to the king's vassals, the 
rest being the levies raised in the south of Nor- 
way, whose time was not yet up. When off the 
Bay of Laaholm, on the coast of Halland, where 
the river Nizza runs into the sea, and just as 
Harold was harrying the coast, came the 
Danish fleet, 360 ships strong, steering up to 
them. But just when Harold seemed so over- 
matched that to fight seemed madness, they saw 
another squadron come sailing up, and this was 
Hacon, Ivar's son, with his ships, who, in that 
hour of trial, could not find it in his heart to fight 
against his countrymen. He had come to do 
battle for Sweyn, with Finn, Ami's son, and went 
over to Harold, Finn staying with the Danes. 
Harold, it need scarcely be said, was overjoyed 
to see him, and thanked him heartily, saying 
that he had heard much of his bravery, which 
would soon be put to the proof. Then he called 
his captains and their crews together, and said, 
" Now King Sweyn is come upon us with a great 
host, as you see, and so I would take counsel 


with the chiefs and the whole host, whether 
we shall fight them, though they are twice as 
strong as we." Then many were for flying, King 
Sweyn' s fleet was so strong it was no use fighting 
them. Others were silent. Then Earl Hacon 
spoke and said : " It seems to me, Lord, though 
the Danes have a large host, still their ships are 
smaller than ours, and I trow their men will once 
again be proved to be less trusty than Nor- 
wegians. It is so with the Danes that they are 
no laggards at the first onset, but they soon grow 
cool if they have a bold face shown them. As 
for you, Lord, you have often fought against 
great odds, and yet won the day, and so it will 
be now." The king was glad at that, and spoke 
in great glee : " I dreamed a dream last night, 
methought I and King Sweyn met, and both 
had hold of a hank and coil of rope, and tugged 
at it, and methought he drew the hank away from 
me, and at that I awoke." This dream did not 
help much to cheer up the hearts of the force ; 
for most read it so that Sweyn would keep what 
they fought for. But Earl Hacon spoke again 
and said, " Maybe, Lord, they read this dream 
aright, but I think it much more likely that King 
Sweyn will be hanged in this hank, and caught 
in this coil himself." " So I think," said the 
king, " and that's the best way of reading the 
dream ; but now we will talk no more about it, 


but say outright that we will all fall across each 
other's bodies ere we fly before the Danes with- 
out striking a blow/' Then Harold drew his 
sword, and went forward to the bow, and hewed 
thrice straight before him in the air down the 
wind, and when Hacon asked why he did so, the 
king answered, " This men call a token of victory 
in foreign lands, when a king points thus which 
way his wrath lies." After that Harold drew up 
his fleet, with his own wardrake in the midst, the 
inner wing touched the Danish shore, the outer 
was toward the open sea, and in the same array 
the Danes came on to the attack, with Sweyn's 
ship in the midst. On his side the number of 
the fleet was too great to allow of their being 
moored and bound together in the usual way. 
Only those in the centre were so bound, on both 
wings were many ships free to sail about as they 
chose. On Harold's side Hacon expressly begged 
leave that his ships might not be bound to the 
rest, but that he might turn from time to time 
whithersoever he chose as the fight went on. In 
Sweyn's host, it is said, there were no fewer than 
six earls, counting Finn Ami's son as one. But 
the day, St. Lawrence's Eve, August 9, 1062, was 
far spent before all this talking and array was 
over, and night was falling ere battle was joined. 
Still the long northern night left time to fight, 
and indeed at that time of the year there is little 


darkness on the Danish waters. When all was 
at last ready, Harold's horns sounded for the on- 
slaught, but the Danes were quicker, and rowed 
up fast with a great blare of trumpets and a loud 
roar of cheering, for they thought at last they had 
got their old foes on the hip. Sweyn ran his ship 
towards Harold's, and bade his crew remember 
what they had suffered from the Norwegians. 
" Let it now be seen how bravely we can fall on 
our foe. We have here many great lords and 
brave lads. If we win the day, we shall live in 
rest and peace ever after." Then the fight began, 
and soon waxed hot. It was now nearly dusk, 
but King Harold stood at the bow of his ship, 
and shot all through the night with a bow. The 
first onslaught of the Danes was very hot, as 
Hacon had foretold, and in the centre they seem 
to have had some success ; but on the wings 
Hacon, Ivar's son, had a great advantage from 
his unfettered ships. First he fell on the outlying 
ships of the foe, who seem not to have had much 
heart in the struggle. These were soon worsted, 
for Hacon' s big ships ran them down and cleared 
their decks one after the other, and put the rest 
to flight. Then came tidings that Harold's other 
wing was hard pressed, and Hacon, the hero of 
the day, flew thither also, and there too the 
Danes were forced to fall back. Still the Danes 
fought well, and the day might have been theirs 


had not the men from Scania, when the night 
was at its darkest, cut their hawsers in a panic 
at Hacon's valour, and stole away from the fleet. 
They made for the river, where they left their 
empty ships, and skulked away to their own 
country as fast as they could. " Shame upon them 
and their offspring for all time," says Saxo, with 
honest indignation at their dastardly desertion. 
So Hacon the whole night through rowed round 
the fleet, bringing help wherever it was needed, 
and scattering the enemy's ships. But now the 
first streaks of dawn showed themselves, and 
Sweyn found, to his amazement, that the Scanians 
were gone. He soon had to think for himself, 
for Harold now boarded his foeman's ship, hew- 
ing with both hands as he went with his long axe, 
and the crew either fell before him or leapt over- 
board. Sweyn held out to the last man, but he was 
no match hand to hand for Harold with his huge 
strength. The last of his crew, he jumped into a 
boat which lay alongside, and rowed off while it 
was still dusk. The other vessels of the fleet saw 
his banner fall, and the rout became general. In 
their fear, they would not stay to cut the hawsers 
in many ships, but the crews leapt from ship to 
ship, and so to land or overboard, so that in a 
little while seventy Danish ships were left with- 
out a man on board them. All these fell into 
Harold's hands. But one man refused to fly. 
VOL. 11. Y 


Harold's old friend, Finn Ami's son, now old, 
and almost blind, still sat on the poop of his ship, 
while every one else fled, and so was taken. 
Harold was eager to follow the fugitives, 
was no easy matter to make his way through the 
scattered hosts on either side, nor had Hacon 
any better success on his side of the battle. Just 
as he was trying to push through, a boat came 
alongside pulled by a single man. He was very 
tall, and had a broad flapping hat over his brows. 
This man hailed the ship. "Where is the earl }" 
he asked. Hacon was standing forward, stanch- 
ing a wound which one of his men had got, and 
when he heard the voice he looked at the man in 
the hat, and asked him his name. . " Here is 
Wanhope," * said the man, " come and speak 
with me, earl." The earl bent over the bulwarks 
towards him, and he said, " I will ask my life of 
thee, earl, if thou wilt grant it." Earl Hacon 
stood up straight, and called two of his men, who 
were both dear to him, and bade them put that 
man on shore. " Many good turns has Wanhope 
done me," he said; "guide him to my friend 
Karl, and bear Karl these tokens that I sent him 

* "Wanhope," an old English word for Despair. "Now 
cometh Wanhope, that is, despeir of the mercy of God," — Chaucer, 
" The Persones Tale." The Norse word is " Vandraftr," "one reft 
of plan," "who knows not which way to turn." It was a name 
taken by Odin in his wanderings, and now by King Sweyn in his 
hour of need. 


thither, in that I beg him to let Wanhope have 
that horse to carry him which I gave Karl yester- 
day, and his saddle too, and his son besides as a 
guide." This was just before daylight. Then 
they stepped into the boat and took to their oars, 
but Wanhope steered. That was just where the 
greatest throng of ships was, and some of the 
runaways were rowing for the land and some out 
to sea, both in small ships and great. Wanhope 
steered as he thought was safest through the 
ships, but whenever a Norwegian ship rowed up 
to them, the earl's men said who they were, and 
so all let them pass as they pleased. Wanhope 
steered straight along the strand, and did not 
put in till they had passed out of the fairway of 
the ships. After that they went up to Karl's 
house, and then it began to be light. They went 
into the sitting-room, and there was Karl up and 
just dressed. The earl's men told him their 
errand, but Karl said they must have a snack 
first, and with that he brought in the board, and 
gave them water to wash their hands. Then the 
gudewife came into the room, and said at once : 
" This is a great wonder that we get never sleep 
nor rest this night for shouting and whooping." 
" Knowest thou not," asked Karl, " that the kings 
have fought to-night r" "Who got the better ?" 
she asked. " The Norwegian won the day," said 
Karl. "Then our king must have run away." 


she said. u We know not," said Karl, " whether 
he has fallen or fled." " We are wretchedly off 
with a king," she said, " who is both halt and a 
coward." The stranger Wanhope said, " Let us 
rather think, carline, what is more seemly, that the 
king is no coward, but not very lucky in battle." 
Wanhope began to wash his hands, and when 
he took the towel, he dried his hands in the 
middle of it, but the gudewife snatched the towel 
out of his hands, and said, "Thou hast not learnt 
much manners, it is like a ploughboy thus to wet 
all the towel at once." " Well," said Wanhope, 
"the day will come, by God's leave, that we 
shall be thought worthy to dry ourselves in the 
middle of a towel." So they sat down to the 
board, and ate and drank a while, and went out 
afterwards. Then Karl's horse was all ready, 
and his son to follow Wanhope on another horse. 
They rode into the wood, but Earl Hacon's men 
went to their boat, and rowed back to the earl's 
ship. The Saga goes on to say, that some time 
after Sweyn sent for Karl, and gave him lands 
and goods in Zealand ; but he would not hear of 
his wife's coming too. They had to part, and 
Karl got a richer, though we cannot agree with 
Sweyn in calling her a better wife, than the old 
lass who called the king a coward because he ran 
away, and scolded him for wetting their single 
towel all over when he washed his hands. 


Divorces must indeed have been easy at King 
Sweyn's Court, as was likely, if we remember 
that, according to the Icelandic annals, he was 
" much smitten by woman's love," and left many 
pledges of it behind him by his three wives and 
many concubines. 

While Sweyn was thus escaping in the grey 
dawn, Harold and his men were chasing the 
flying host. After following them a little way 
out to sea, the Norsemen turned back \o count 
the ships they had taken, and to "ken" the 
dead. Sweyn's ship was thickly strewn with 
corpses, but among them his body was not to 
be found, though all were sure he must have 
fallen. Some time was spent in stanching and 
binding wounds, and in burying the slain on 
both sides. After that a great booty was shared 
among the victors, and the prisoners were 
brought before Harold. First of these was 
Finn Ami's son. Harold was joyous at his 
victory, and said, as soon as he saw his kins- 
man, " Well ! Finn, here we meet again. Last 
we met in Norway ; but how was it that thy 
Danish bodyguard stood not better by thee ? 
'Twill be hard work for Norsemen to drag thee 
blind along with them." " Norsemen," answered 
Finn, "have now to do many bad things, and, 
worst of all, when they do what you bid them." 


" Wilt thou take peace and pardon, though thou 
art unworthy of it r " asked the king. " Not 
from thee, thou hound/' was the answer. " "Wilt 
thou take it from thy kinsman Magnus, then ? " 
asked the king, for Magnus was steering the 
ship. " What should such a whelp as that know 
about peace ? " At that the king laughed, and 
thought it great sport to taunt him. " Wilt thou 
take it, then, of thy kinswoman Thora ? " " Is 
she here?" asked Finn. "Yes." "Ah," said 
Finn, " no wonder thou foughtest well when 
the grey mare was with thee." * At last the 
king's peace was granted to the blind old man, 
but he was still unhappy and quarrelsome. In 
a day or two the king said, " I see thou wilt not 
be good friends with me or thy kinsfolk, and so 
I will give thee leave to go to thy King Sweyn." 
" That offer," answered Finn, " I gladly take. I 
shall be all the better pleased the sooner I get 
away." So he was set on shore in Halland, and 
soon found his way to King Sweyn. 

Before this, Harold had heard of his rival's 
escape, and that it was useless to seek for his 
body among the slain. With Sweyn's usual 
activity he was rallying his scattered forces in 
the island of Zealand, and in a few days was at 
the head of a powerful fleet ; with this he hovered 

* An allusion to the horse fights, a darling amusement of the 
northern nations. 


about the host of Harold, ready to cut off any 
stragglers that he might find, while on shore the 
woods were filled with levies to ward off any 
hostile landing. In spite of Harold's orders to 
his captains to keep close, his own son Magnus 
and Thorolf Mostrarskegg left the fleet, and 
landed in the night to seek for glory. The 
two brothers-in-arms had not gone far into the 
country before the Danes fell upon them in over- 
whelming numbers. All their followers were 
slain, and Magnus only escaped by the great 
strength and endurance of Thorolf, who bore the 
boy on his back through the woods, and so 
gave his foes the slip. Next morning they 
were missed by Harold, and mourned as 
dead. With a heavy heart at the loss of his 
son, Harold gave orders to break up the host, 
and steer for " the Bay." His hard-fought vic- 
tory had not won him one inch of Denmark. 
Honour and booty were all he gained, and so, 
with a large addition to his fleet in Sweyn's 
empty ships, he made his way back to his own 
land. But in " the Bay " a welcome surprise 
greeted him. He had landed his wounded men, 
and one day when he was on shore looking after 
their hurts, he saw Thorolf coming down to the 
strand, with Magnus on his back. He had made 
his way across the country. The Saga may well 
say " they were much wasted for want of food." 


Harold scolded them for the fright they had 
given him, and asked if they thought themselves 
men enough to beat the whole Danish host, that 
they went up so unwarily with such a scanty 
force. They might have been content with the 
glory the whole fleet had won in common ; as 
it was, they had much minished his victory. 
The wary king looked upon the exploit in the 
light of a Balaklava charge, C'est magnifique, 
mats ce n y est pas la guerre. After praising Thorolf 
for his hardihood and faithfulness in helping 
Magnus, his speech took a more general tone, 
and he added : " And so, too, must I thank my 
kinsman Earl Hacon first and foremost; and 
after him all my liegemen for their good fol- 
lowing and daring which they have shown in 
this battle." These words pleased all who 
heard them. Thorolf and Magnus were properly 
fed and cared for, and the freemen's levies were 
sent home, while the king made ready to pass 
the winter at Oslo in " the Bay." 

As was natural enough, the late battle was the 
common talk of men that winter, and "every 
man," as the Saga says, " had something to say 
about it." So one day as many men were sitting 
round the fire in a room in the king's palace, 
the battle was again brought forward, and one 
asked who had gotten most fame on that bloody 
day. With one voice all said, " There was none 


like Hacon Ivar's son ; he was the boldest and 
keenest and luckiest. His help was worth most, 
and he won the victory." All this time Harold 
was out in the yard, and heard what was said ; 
he went at once to the door of the room, looked 
in and said, " No doubt every man here would 
wish his name were Hacon/' He said no more 
and went his way. As for Hacon the hero of 
the day, he went in the autumn to his home in 
the Uplands. Though jealous, Harold still made 
much of him ; he talked over Ragnhilda to 
marry Hacon, promising to raise him to the 
rank of earl in the Uplands, to which there was 
now no hindrance in the way as Earl Orm was 
dead. On this understanding the marriage 
actually took place at Yule, but after it was 
over the king put off from day to day the ful- 
filment of his word, and at last he told Hacon 
right out that it could not be. In fact he dreaded 
his popularity in the Uplands, and feared to raise 
a rival near his throne. The same day as Hacon 
went home, Ragnhilda, believing that he had 
gained his end, met him at the door, and greeted 
him with "Welcome home, my Earl." But 
Hacon, noble-hearted as he was, told her the 
bitter truth, adding that, as the king was faith- 
less to his word, he would not have her hand on 
false pretences. He was ready to give her up, 
to allow her to have a divorce, and at the same 


time to give up to her all his goods. But 
Ragnhilda, who now really loved the chivalrous 
Hacon, would hear of nothing of the kind. She 
had taken him for better for worse, and would 
cling to him to the last. While things were in 
this doubtful state, fresh fuel was found for the 
king's jealousy, and the breach between him 
and Hacon became complete. Later on in the 
spring one day as men sat at drink, their talk 
again turned to the battle, and again Hacon 
was much praised, though some held up others 
who had behaved as well. At last one man said, 
" May be other men fought as bravely as Earl 
Hacon at Nizza, but still no man there had as 
much luck as he/' The rest said, " That was his 
greatest luck that he put to flight so many of the 
Danes." "Ay," said the man, "but it was 
greater luck when he gave King Sweyn his 
life." " Come," said another, " thou canst not 
know for a truth what thou now sayest." "I 
know it for the very truth," he answered, "for 
I heard it of the man who put the king on 
shore." "Now," says the Saga, "the saw was 
proved which says ' many are the king's ears,' 
for this was carried and told to King Harold on 
the spot." No wonder he was wroth when he 
heard it, and planned revenge on his faithless 
vassal. But Hacon's plans had long been made. 
He had gone home to his house in Raumarike, 


and made ready quietly to leave the land, selling 
his property for ready money. Harold no doubt 
knew what was going on, for Oslo was not far 
from Hacon's home, and here too the king's 
many ears and many eyes must have stood him 
in good stead. But the news of Sweyn's escape 
by Hacon's connivance brought their quarrel to 
a head, and Harold, who before might have been 
glad that his mighty vassal should steal noise- 
lessly from Norway to find a shelter with King 
Sweyn, now thirsted for vengeance, and strove 
to cut his enemy off. With two hundred men* 
at his back he rode from Oslo at sunset. All 
that night they rode, and next day they came 
on men who were going to Oslo with malt and 
meal. In the king's company was a man named 
Gamal, an old friend of Hacon's. He spoke to 
one of the boors whom he knew, and said, " I 
will bargain with thee for a sum, that thou ridest 
as fast as thou canst by the shortest cut thou 
knowest, and so comest to Earl f Hacon's house, 
and tellest him the king means to kill him, for 
that he now knows that Hacon put King Sweyn 
on shore at the battle of Nizza." So they struck 
that bargain, and the boor rode as fast as his horse 

* Two hundred : these would be "long hundreds," 120 each, so 
that the number would be 240. 

f Hacon was called " earl " from the earldom which Sweyn had 
given him ; in Norway it was a barren title, with no lands or rights 
to support it, like a Polish county in England, 


would carry him, and reached the earl's house 
ere they went to bed, for he was still up a-drink- 
ing when he came. But as soon as the boor told 
his story, the earl arose and all his men, and he 
made them flit all his goods and chattels to the 
woods, and he and all his household left the 
house. Next day the king came and found it 
empty, and the bird flown. So he stayed there 
the night, and then went home foiled in his 
purpose. But before he went, he declared all 
Hacon's property forfeit to the Crown. 

At first Hacon betook himself across the 
Swedish border to King Steinkel, and stayed 
with him that summer. As soon as he heard 
that Harold had gone north to Drontheim, he 
crossed into Norway, fell upon the king's men 
who were set to keep his house, slew them, set 
the house on fire, launched his ships, and sailed 
off to King Sweyn. The Danish king received 
him, as he was bound, with open arms, and gave 
him the earldom of Halland, after Finn Ami's 
son, who was just then dead. But coupled with 
the dignity, was the request that Hacon would 
curb the unruly spirit of Asmund, Sweyn's 
nephew, the son of his brother Bjorn, who, as 
we have seen, had been slain by Sweyn God- 
win's son in England. At first King Sweyn had 
shown the boy all favour and brought him up at 
his Court, but he soon showed an evil spirit, 


lived by wrong and robbery, was the companion 
of sea-rovers, and spared neither man nor woman 
in his passion. The king then stripped him of 
the fiefs which he had given him, and ordered 
him to stay at Court and avoid ill company ; but 
Asmund broke out again and again, and at last 
Sweyn was forced to keep him fast bound in 
prison. But fetters could not hold that daring 
temper. Asmund soon broke loose, joined his 
old brothers-in-arms, gathered ships and men, 
and lived a Viking life, the terror of the Danish 
coasts. His boldness grew so great that when 
Finn Ami's son died, Asmund demanded his 
earldom of his uncle. In this strait Hacon made 
his appearance at Court, and was told that he 
might have Finn's earldom if he could catch 
Asmund. This quest just suited Hacon's tem- 
per ; he set off at once with his six ships, re- 
fusing all other help. In a little while he heard 
that Asmund lay with his roving squadron of 
ten ships at the mouth of the Slei, where an inlet 
runs up from the Baltic to the town of Sleswig. 
Without staying to count his enemy's force 
Hacon at once attacked him. As the ships 
neared one another, Asmund hailed Hacon and 
said, "No wonder thou comest on so eagerly 
when thou hast got a promise of an earldom, but 
it was a shame of King Sweyn to offer it to thee, 
and when he did so he could not have remem- 


bered the fight at Nizza." " True it is," answered 
Hacon, " that I stood by King Harold at Nizza, 
and I felt no shame in helping my king ; but as 
for thee, thou ever aimest at cheating and weak- 
ening thy kinsman and king ; but to-day thou 
shalt feel that I am not afraid to cope with 
thee." After this the fight grew hot and furious, 
but Hacon won the day. He boarded Asmund' s 
ship, and carried it as far as the bow, where 
Asmund was taken prisoner. By their bargain 
Hacon was bound to bring Asmund to King 
Sweyn, but at the sight of him he could not 
withstand his wish to rid the world of this fire- 
brand. "Never," he cried, "could I bring to 
King Sweyn any better gift than this evil head;" 
as he said this he rushed on Asmund and slew 
him. But when he got back to Sweyn, the king 
was angry that Hacon had overstepped his 
mission. The uncle seems still to have had a 
fondness for his scapegrace nephew. He felt 
for him somewhat as David felt for Absalom, 
and though he gave Hacon the earldom, he said, 
" Thou canst no longer be my bosom friend, nor 
can I take it upon myself to hold thee safe 
against all our kinsmen who may perhaps crave 
revenge. Thou wouldst do best, therefore, to 
withdraw to that side of my realm which is most 
exposed to hostile attacks, and content thyself 
with that position." So Hacon went to Halland 


as earl, whence he could waste Harold's posses- 
sions in " the Bay " whenever he chose. 

No sooner was Hacon firmly seated in his 
new province than he made his power for harm 
felt in Norway. He was the darling of u the 
Uplands," that great district in the heart of 
Southern Norway in which he and his family 
lived, and which just then felt itself injured by 
Harold, who, by bringing all his subjects to one 
level as regarded the Crown, had robbed the 
freemen of the Uplands of certain privileges 
which had been granted to them by St. Olaf. 
It added to the bitterness of the blow that 
Harold who inflicted it was himself an Uplander 
born. The Uplanders, therefore, were not slow 
to listen to Hacon's rebellious counsels, the' less 
so when they found that he was backed by the 
King of Sweden, who gave him the border pro- 
vince of Wermeland as a fief, and allowed the 
men of West Gothland, another great Swedish 
province, to flock to his banner. Backed by this 
force from without, and strong in his popularity 
in the Uplands themselves, Hacon made an on- 
slaught on Raumarike, where his old home had 
been, levying taxes and dues as if he had really 
been Earl of Upland, the title he had so long 
coveted. The freemen made no resistance, and 
when Harold, who returned to Oslo for the win- 
ter, sent his men to the Uplands to levy his 


taxes, the proud peasants sent him back word 
that they had already paid their taxes and dues 
to Earl Hacon, and meant to pay them to him 
so long as he was alive. " In other words," as 
Munch well says, "the Uplanders were in a 
state little short of rebellion." This outbreak 
in his native province, supported by a foe so 
dangerous as Hacon, was quite enough to alarm 
the politic Harold. He began to reflect on his 
losses and his gains during his sixteen years' 
weary warfare with Sweyn, and he was forced 
to confess that he was now not one inch nearer 
his object than when he began. He could not 
attain it when Hacon was his friend and had 
helped him to win a great battle ; he was still 
less likely to subdue Denmark when Hacon was 
his bitter foe, raising rebellion in his native pro- 
vince, and when Sweyn was to all appearance 
as active and vigorous as ever. Harold's 
thoughts then turned towards peace abroad, in 
order that he "might crush rebellion at home. 
Nor was Sweyn on his side unwilling for peace. 
He had always wished to be suffered to rule in 
peace ; in two great battles he had been worsted, 
and he feared a third time to trust the issue to 
arms. The freemen on both sides, those warriors 
who, unlike the king's body-guard, not only 
paid for the war with their persons, but with 
their purses as well, they too were weary of 


warfare, Danes and Norwegians alike ; we may 
therefore well believe the Saga when it says : 
" That winter messengers passed between Nor- 
way and Denmark, and the purport of the mes- 
sages was that both sides, Norsemen as well as 
Danes, wished to be set at one again, and each 
side bade their king agree to that; and so it 
came about that a meeting between the kings 
was fixed for the Gottenburg river, and when 
the spring came, each king gathered a great 
force and manned many ships for this voyage." 
So there, in the spring of the year 1064, Harold 
and Sweyn met on the border, perhaps on the 
very islands where the Treaty of the Burnt 
Islands had been struck between Magnus and 
Hardicanute. "At first," says the Norwegian 
accounts, " the Danes made such moan for all 
the wrongs they had suffered at the hands of the 
Norsemen, that things for some time looked very 
unlike peace ; but at last, by the help of wise 
heads and true hearts, peace was made between 
the kings." The terms were that each king should 
hold his kingdom so far as its old boundaries 
stretched, that neither should strive after any 
part of the other's realm, that there should be no 
claims for compensation or atonement for harm 
done during the war, and that each should hold 
the gain or scathe that he had got. The peace 
was to last so long as the kings lived, and it 
VOL. 11. z 


was ratified by oaths and hostages on either 
side. Thus this long-standing feud came to an 
end. Sweyn returned home, glad at heart to 
rule his realm in peace ; Harold down-hearted 
at having spent so much blood and treasure in 
vain, and at the prospect of new strife in the 
heart of his kingdom with one of his unruly 

After the treaty was concluded, Harold re- 
turned to " the Bay," taking up his quarters at 
Oslo, the town which he had founded, where he 
spent the rest of the summer. As soon as he 
came back, he sent again to the Uplands to 
demand his taxes, but the freemen sent back 
much the same answer : " They had already 
paid their taxes to Earl Hacon, and now they 
would wait till Earl Hacon came, and they heard 
what he had to say." As for Hacon, he was 
not idle. As soon as he heard of the peace, he 
assured himself of King Sweyn's friendship, 
who, though he could not break the treaty just 
made with Harold by giving him open help, still 
backed his cause with King Steinkel of Sweden 
so well, that the Swedish monarch made him 
Earl of West Gothland, as well as Wermeland. 
So that Hacon had now three earldoms, one 
Danish and two Swedish, besides exercising an 
earl's power in the Uplands. Such wide-spread 
influence must have gladdened the haughty 


heart of Ragnhilda, who brought with her, as 
part of her dowry, the banner of her father 
Magnus, well known to many of Harold's men, 
who had followed it under the leadership of the 
good and blameless king. Hacon was no 
despicable enemy, but Harold was more than 
his match. Instead of waiting, like the Up- 
landers, until Hacon came to him, he resolved to 
go to Hacon in his Swedish earldom, and stifle 
his force in the bud, before it had time to ripen 
into deadly fruit. But his plans were deeply 
laid. All the summer of 1064 was spent in 
amusement in " the Bay," but one day as winter 
drew on, Harold suddenly went to the King's 
Crag, a royal residence on the east side of " the 
Bay," at the mouth of the Gottenburg river. 
Here he seized sixty ships of light draught, 
manned them with picked warriors, and rowed 
up the river with them ; when they came to a 
rapid or a fall, the ships were dragged over 
them by a portage ; and so they came safe and 
sound into the great Wener Lake in the enemy's 
country. There he crossed to the east side of 
the lake, where he knew that Earl Hacon lay 
with an army of Goths. It was cold and snowing 
when the king landed, but Harold thought that 
rather a gain, as the soft snow hindered the 
peasants from flying with their goods, and as 
the Norwegians were better able, being more 


warmly clad, to bear the cold than their enemy. 
Leaving some of his men behind to guard the 
ships, with the rest he advanced against the 
earl. After going some way they came to a hill, 
from the brow of which they saw Earl Hacon's 
force down on the other side of a valley, at the 
bottom of which was a moor. Here Harold 
made his men sit down on the brow, and wait 
till Hacon's impatience or the pinching cold 
drove him to attack, when their favourable posi- 
tion would give the Norsemen a great advan- 
tage. On his side, too, Hacon bade his men 
wait for the onslaught of their foe. He had 
with him Thorvid, the Lawman of West Goth- 
land, who made a speech to his men sitting on 
his horse, which was tethered to a spike in the 
ground. " We have a great and fine host," he 
said, " and here are many brave men ; in the 
earl we have a doughty leader; let King 
Steinkel hear that we stood by this good earl as 
we ought." So he went on ; but just as he was 
speaking, up rose all the Norwegian host and 
shouted their war-cry, and smote their shields 
with sword and axe. The Goths, who thought 
the foe were about to fall on them, shouted in 
their turn ; and all this uproar so scared the 
Lawman's horse that he started, and pulled the 
spike out of the earth. It flew at the end of the 
tether about the Lawman's ears. As for him, he 


thought it was a Norse shaft, forgot on the spot 
all his brave words, struck spurs into his horse, 
and fled from the field, bellowing, " Bad luck to 
thee for thy shot." But it had not been Harold's 
purpose to begin the onslaught ; he only wished 
to scare the Goths, and provoke them to move. 
In this he was quite successful. As soon as he 
heard the war-cry, the Earl Hacon advanced 
with his banner and crossed the moor. When 
they got well under the brow of the hill, Harold 
and his men rushed down on them, and routed 
them utterly. The earl himself, and a chosen 
band who had followed him from home, fought 
well, but the Goths fled to the woods, and at 
last Hacon had to turn too. Worst of all, the 
banner of King Magnus fell into Harold's hands, 
who had it borne by the side of his own, and 
called it the fairest prize of victory. It was now 
getting dark, and Harold made for his ships 
after following the enemy a little way. All 
thought the earl had fallen. But as they went 
through a narrow pass in the wood — so narrow 
that but one man could pass abreast of it — lo ! 
when they were least aware, a man leapt his 
horse across the path, and all at one and the 
same time he drove a javelin through the man 
that bore the banner, and clutched the banner 
by the pole, and rode off with it into the wood on 
the other side. But when the king was told this 


he said, " Get me my byrnie ; the earl lives still ! 
I know my kinswoman Ragnhilda's temper well 
enough to feel sure she would never let Hacon 
come near her bed, if he lost that banner." So 
the king rode about nightfall to his ships, and 
many said that the earl had avenged himself, 
even though he had fled. 

It was not Harold's purpose to penetrate 
further into Sweden after striking this blow; 
but a strong frost, which came on soon after he 
got back to his ships, forced him to stay till he 
could cut them out of the lake, and get them 
into the river again. While he waited he made 
raids through the country to get food ; but 
though, from time to time, some of his men 
were cut off, neither Earl Hacon nor his Goths 
made any serious efforts to attack him. Nor, 
indeed, do we hear anything more of Earl Hacon, 
except that he lived long and prosperously in 
Sweden and Denmark. 

While Harold's men were busy cutting his 
ships out of the ice, an event occurred which is 
worth telling, as showing how long a blood-feud 
lasted in the North, and with what stubbornness 
of purpose it was followed up. " King Harold 
lay that night aboard his ships, but next morn- 
ing, when it was light, there was ice all about 
his ships so thick that one might walk round 
them. Then the king bade tell the men that 


they should cut a way out for the ships ; and so 
they fell to and were busy at hewing the ice. 
Magnus the king's son was captain of that ship 
that lay outmost and nearest to the open water, 
but when men had nearly cut through all the ice, 
and there was only a bridge left, there came a man 
running along it to where they were hewing, and 
began to hew as though he were mad. Then a 
man spoke, and said : 'Now, as oft, it is proved 
that no man is so good at need as Hall Kodran's 
bane yonder. See how he hews away at the 
ice ! ' But there was a man on board the ship 
of Magnus whose name was Thormod, he was 
the son of Eindridi ; but as soon as ever Thor- 
mod heard Hall called 'Kodran's bane/ he 
rushed on him, and smote him his death-blow ; 
for Jorunna, the mother of Thormod, was 
Kodran's cousin. Thormod was but a year old 
when Kodran was slain, and he had never seen 
Hall that he knew before that day. Just then 
the ice was hewn through, and Magnus ran his 
ship through the break in the ice, hoisted sail, 
and sailed west across the lake : but the kind's 
ship lay furthest in, and so it ran last of all out. 
Hall had been in the king's company, and very 
dear to him, and the king was very wroth. 
When he came into harbour at night, Magnus 
had packed the manslayer off into the wood, 
and offered an atonement for him ; but the king 


would not hear of such a thing, and was on the 
very point of falling on Magnus his son, if their 
friends had not come between them/' 

After this bold stroke dealt in the heart of his 
enemy's country, Harold had his hands free to 
chastise the rebellious Uplanders. At the head 
of a great host he marched into those provinces. 
First he turned to Raumarike, Hacon's country, 
where the chief offenders dwelt. In vain the 
freemen pleaded the privileges which St. Olaf 
had granted them, privileges which Harold as 
one of themselves ought to cherish rather than 
lessen. a King Harold," says the Saga, " would 
have naught else than that all men in Norway 
of equal birth should have equal rights." In a 
word, he would hear of no privileges for this or 
that province ; all should be equal in the eyes of 
the law ; he had come to break down, not to 
build up special rights and privileges ; to make 
Norway one country under one king. The first 
part of his reign had been spent in putting down 
the great chiefs, more especially those about 
Drontheim ; the last two years were spent in 
curbing the freemen in Upland. So that chiefs 
and freemen alike, not in Drontheim or the 
Uplands alone, should feel and know that the 
privileges of the provinces and the private rights 
of the freemen must yield to the superior rights 
of the kingdom at large, and the prerogative of 


the king as lord paramount. But besides these 
theoretical questions of right, Harold had his 
own wrongs to avenge on those who had refused 
him his dues and mocked at his messengers ; on 
the men who had waited for Hacon to help them, 
and on Hacon whom he had already tracked 
and routed in his Swedish lair. Harold did his 
work well. His path was marked by blood and 
fire. The unruly freemen paid for their rebellion 
by life and limb. Some were slain, others 
maimed, others again lost all their goods. 

" Fruitless then was freemen's flouting, 
Harold's 'hest they must obey," 

says Thiodolf, who went with Harold on this 
bloody progress as his skald. And again, — 

" Harold's liegemen learnt a lesson, 
Flame leapt fierce from roof to roof." 

From Raumarike he passed into Hedemark, 
Hadeland, and Ringerike, everywhere showing 
the same sternness ; wasting, slaying, and burn- 
ing as he went. 

" Fire as judge sat on the freemen, 
Ruddy-featured passing sentence, 
Ere to them slow leave was granted 
Flame to slake or life to save." 

When Harold thought he had done enough in 
the way of punishment, he still stayed in the 
Uplands for a year and a half, passing from 


house to house and from feast to feast ; in most 
cases we may be sure no very welcome guest, 
though Ami, a rich freeman to whom he came, 
declared that it gladdened all men's hearts to 
see the king sitting quietly among his loving 
friends. That this was not always the case is 
well shown by the following story, which, ad- 
venturous as it seems, may well be founded on 
truth. At any rate, as Munch says, it was 
reduced to writing a little more than a century 
after Harold's death, and shows the mark made 
by his Upland progress on the minds of the next 
two or three generations. u Among the Upland 
freemen was a man named Ulf the Wealthy, for 
he had fourteen or fifteen farms in the district. 
His wife bade him ask the king to a feast, as 
many other wealthy men did. ' He will be sure 
to take it well,' she said, ' and show thee honour 
in return.' 'Well,' answered Ulf, 'this king 
doesn't do by all men as they think they deserve. 
I have little mind to bid him to my house, for I 
think he will be jealous of my wealth and be 
greedy of my goods more than is right. Me- 
thinks his hand will fall heavier on me than on 
the rest, rather than show me favour as is meet, 
and that in spite of all the good-will I may show 
him.' But though Ulf's words were on this 
wise, yet for the love he bare his wife he gave in, 
and bade King Harold to a feast when he left 


Ami's house. The king said he would come, 
and Ulf went home and made ready for a great 
feast. The king came when he was looked for, 
and found all of the best, furniture, hangings, 
and ale-stoups. In a word, everything was old 
and precious, and no feast could be better set 
out. So one day of the feast, for they lasted 
several days, when men had taken their seats, 
the king was merry and his followers, and he 
said it would be good if the feast were gladdened 
with a little fun. All said with one mouth 'twas 
well spoken, adding it would be great honour if 
such a man as he took the lead in making merri- 
ment. i Well/ said the king, * I will tell you a 
little story, and this is how it begins : — Once on 
a time there was a king named Sigurd the Giant, 
and he was a son of Harold Fairhair. This 
Sigurd had a son whose name was Halfdan, and 
an earl under Sigurd was called Halfdan also ; 
so there were two Halfdans. One of the king's 
thralls was named Almstein. They were all 
much of an age — King Sigurd, Earl Halfdan, 
and Almstein. The king and the earl were 
foster-brothers, and they had all three played 
together as children when they were young. 
Well, time went on, and King Sigurd fell sick, 
and his heart told him that this sickness would 
be his death ; so he called Earl Halfdan to him, 
and made him guardian over all his goods and 


of his son too, for he thought he could trust him 
best of all to take care of his son, and keep the 
kingdom for him for the sake of their foster- 
brothership and long friendship, and so a little 
while after the king breathed his last. 

" ' The earl became a great strength and sup- 
port to Prince Halfdan, got in his dues for him, 
and showed him honour in every way. The earl 
had a son too about as old as Halfdan and they 
too were very good friends. Almstein, who was 
now Prince Halfdan's thrall, was a tall man in 
stature, fair of face, strong in thews, a man who 
knew many feats, and in short a man of much 
more mark than most thralls. Of his birth and 
stock no man knew aught. It befell that this 
Almstein offered to get in Prince Halfdan's dues 
for the space of three years, and as he was 
known to be a fitting man, but more because 
he had been almost as good as a foster-brother 
to King Sigurd, who had never reckoned him on 
the same footing as his other thralls, this offer 
was agreed to. But it turned out that he behaved 
so in this business that little of the money came 
to Prince Halfdan. Then Almstein took to sail- 
ing about to foreign lands with Prince Halfdan's 
goods, turning them over and over again in trade, 
and keeping them as his own, and gaining many 
friends and followers by gifts both in Prince 
Halfdan's realm as in other parts. About that 


time Earl Halfdan died, but as soon as Almstein 
heard that when he came back, he set off at once 
with a great band to Prince Halfdan' s house and 
set fire to it ; the earl's son was inside the house 
along with Prince Halfdan. But when those 
who were inside were ware of the strife and 
the blaze outside, then both the prince and the 
earl's son went into a gallery underground 
which led out into the wood, and so they got 
safe off. So Almstein burned the house down, 
and thought he had burnt along with it both the 
king's son and the earl's son. The lads were 
some time wanderers in the woods and wastes, 
but at last they came out in Sweden to the house 
of an earl named Hacon, and begged him for 
shelter. The earl was slow to answer, and 
stared at them a long while, but at last he gave 
them food and lodging, but he showed them no 
honour, and they were with him three winters. 
As for Almstein, he seized Halfdan's realm, and 
made himself king over it, and no one gainsayed 
him or withstood him, but all thought it ill living 
under his sway, for he was quarrelsome, unjust, 
and wanton, so that he took good men's wives 
and daughters from them, and kept them as long 
as he chose, and got children by them. 

" ' But when the lads had been three winters 
in Sweden with Earl Hacon, then they went in 
before the earl one day to take leave, and 


thanked him for their board and lodging. " This 
shelter, Halfdan," said the earl, "that I have 
given you is little thankworthy. So soon as 
ever I saw you, I knew who ye were. Thy 
father, King Sigurd, was my bosom friend, but 
why I showed you little favour was that it might 
not be noised abroad that ye were still alive. 
But now since ye wish to go away hence, I will 
give you three hundred men as your followers, 
and that may be some gain to you, though they 
be but a little band, if ye fall unawares on that 
wicked niddering Almstein, as is not unlikely; 
for now he must have no dread for his own sake 
when he weens that you have both been burnt 
with the house over your heads ; and sooth to 
say it were well done if ye two could win back 
your power and fame." After that they set off 
with that band, and not a whisper was heard of 
them, till they came unawares . on Almstein' s 
house and set fire to it. Now when the house 
began to blaze, the folk went out to whom leave 
was granted, and then Almstein asked for peace. 
" 'Twere but right and fitting," answered Half- 
dan, "that the same fate should befall thee 
which thou hadst meant for me with thy das- 
tardly deed; but for that we are not equals, 
thou shalt have thy life on these terms, that 
thou goest back to thy true nature, be called a 
thrall, and be a thrall so long as thou livest, and 


all thy race after thee that may spring from thy 
loins. Those terms Almstein chose rather than 
die there and then. So Halfdan handed him 
along with his thrall's name a white kirtle of 
plain shape and straight cut. After that a Thing 
was called, and Halfdan took a king's name, 
and he got back all the realm his father had 
before him, and all men were glad at that 

" ' Now to make a long story short Almstein 
had many children, and I trow Ulf that thy 
pedigree is this : — Almstein was thy grandfather 
and I am King Halfdan' s grandchild, and yet 
thou and thy kinsfolk have got into your hands 
so much of the king's goods as may be seen in 
all this furniture and these drinking vessels. 
Take now this white kirtle which my grandsire 
Halfdan gave to thy grandsire Almstein, and 
along with it take thy true family name, and 
be a thrall henceforth for evermore; for so it 
was decreed at that Thing of which I spoke 
when Halfdan got back his kingly title, that thy 
ancestor took the kirtle, and the mothers of his 
children came to the Thing with him, and they 
and all their children took kirtles of like hue and 
shape, and so shall their offspring for ever.' 

"So King Harold made them bring out a 
white kirtle, and hold it before Ulf s eyes, and he 
sang these verses : — 


' Ken'st thou this kirtle ? 
Kine are the king's due ; 
An ox of full growth too 
Thou ow'st to the king ; 
Fat geese and swine too 
Thou ow'st to the king ; 
Offspring and all thou ownest, 
Thou ow'st to the king.' 

And then the king added this tag, — 

' Much guile is now mingled, 
The king claims thyself too.' 

Then Harold when on in prose : ' Take now 
this kirtle, Ulf, which thy friends owned before 
thee, and along with it such rights and names as 
they had.' Ulf thought the king's fun most 
unfriendly, but could scarcely dare to say any- 
thing against it, and he hardly knew whether to 
take the kirtle or not, but his wife and his friends 
bade him never to accept such an insult, what- 
ever the king might say. Then the wife went 
up to the king with her kith and kin and asked 
for peace for Ulf, and that he might not be so 
shamefully mocked as looked likely ; and at last 
the king listened to their prayers and did not 
force Ulf to become a thrall, and gave him back 
one farm out of the fifteen which he owned, but 
the rest the king confiscated, and all his goods 
and costly things, gold and silver and drinking 
cups and all. And so the end of the king's 
dealings with Ulf was just what Ulf s heart had 


told him would happen ere he bade the king to 
a feast. And after that the king fared back to 
Drontheim and took up his abode at NiSaros." 

By this story, whether he invented it alto- 
gether or merely applied a well-known tale to 
the case of Ulf, Harold meant to show that 
though all men were equal before the Crown, 
the king's rights bore down all else. Against 
the king no lapse of time or right of property 
could avail anything. It was a sermon on the 
maxim of English law, nullum tempus occurrit 
regi, and nothing shows more how completely 
he had laid Norway under his feet than the way 
in which he now meddled with the freemen's 
rights and sought his victims among the vulgar 
herd, after having brought down so many mighty 
chiefs. So there he sat at Drontheim that winter 
of the year 1065 at peace with all the world, 
enjoying for once in his busy life a short breath- 
ing space, while those mighty events were pre- 
paring in the West so full of interest for Eng- 
land and the North, and in which Harold was so 
soon to play a chief part.* 

* The rest of Harold Hardrada's history will be found in the 
Essay, " England and Norway in the nth Century," in Vol. I. 




Not long ago I was in a country house called 
Littleworth ; where it was I will not say—per- 
haps in the North, perhaps in the South; but 
wherever it was, it was a grand house, with a 
fine library. Nothing could be kinder than my 
hosts, and yet in the morning the time hung 
heavy on my hands. I do not shoot ; to fish I am 
ashamed, unless it be with a fly, and at that sea- 
son fly-fishing was over. After breakfast the 
men went out to shoot, and came back to snore 
after dinner, and the women disappeared ; 
whither they went, I cannot tell; I only know 
that where they were I could not come, and that 
I was left alone. Had I been agreeable, of 
course I should have had company : but then I 
am not agreeable, so I had none. I tried what 
the curate was like — the living was sequestrated, 
and there was no rector ; — he lived close to the 
house, but I could get little out of him. He may 


have taken a great deal in, but he certainly gave 
very little out, and what with fear of the Squire 
and the Dissenters, he seemed to lead a wretched 
life. Thus thrown on myself in the mornings, 
I resolved to ask for the key of the great library, 
which lived by itself in a wing of the house. At 
first no one knew where it was ; the mistress 
knew nothing of it, had never seen it. " As for 
the books, they were musty old Latin rubbish. 
All the books she cared for came down from 
Mudie's." The butler declared the housekeeper 
must have it, and she was equally certain that 
long ago she had given it to him. At last it was 
found in the door of the library itself, and it had 
made itself so disagreeable to the lock, that the 
lock for some time kept it a close prisoner. But 
out it came at length, and in I went to the 
library. It was a splendid collection, mostly of 
Italian and Latin books, in excellent condition. 
The Squire's grandfather had been a book-worm 
in the old Roxburgh days, and he had added most 
of those Italian and Latin books to the old library. 
As I walked along, I saw a label on one of the 
cases, " Italian Belles Lettres," and paused 
before it. The first book on which my eye fell 
was FaceticB Poggii — " Poggio's Funny Stories." 
Of course you all know everything about Poggio 
Bracciolini, apostolic secretary under eight suc- 
cessive popes, one of the great lights of the first 


half of the fifteenth century, a man who did as 
much as any one in that age for the revival of 
classical learning; a laborious scholar, and a 
most ready wit. It would be an insult to your 
understanding to suppose that you are ignorant 
of the public career of this great Italian, and so 
I will only confine myself to his " Facetiae," a 
collection of witty and merry stories, which he 
wrote in Florence in 1450, when all the world 
fled from Rome to avoid the plague which broke 
out during the jubilee. 

But where were we ? Oh, in the library, with 
Poggio before me. Now, you are not to suppose 
this was the first time I had seen the book. 
Once on a time, when I was a little boy, a look 
on the outside got me a good caning, and this is 
how it was. On a summer afternoon, when at a 
private school, I had a toothache, and while all 
the school were hard at cricket, I stole into our 
master's library just to 'look at his books when 
he was away at the petty sessions. Who would 
have supposed that the Reverend Dr. Cutbrush 
would have returned just as I had Poggii 
Faceticz in my hand, and was going to begin ? 
" How dare you touch that book, sir ? Put it 
back at once." I obeyed, but not before I had 
found it illustrated with " cuts," a shower of 
which from the doctor's cane fell on my back, 
curing my toothache on homoeopathic principles. 


He then went on to say, "That is one of the most 
infamous books in the Latin language, and no 
Christian or gentleman ought to read it." He 
did not say why, if all that were true, the book 
was found at all in his virtuous library ; but what 
he did say sank into my soul with the marks of 
his cane, and from that day till the hour when I 
stood face to face with Poggio in the library at 
Littleworth, I had never dared to look into the 
book. Need I say that then the ghost of the 
doctor's prohibition was laid ? I seized the book, 
and shaking the dust off it and my feet, bore it 
away in triumph to what was called the " little 
library," where there were arm-chairs, a blazing 
fire, and no books ; and there, on a late autumn 
day, I read Poggii Facetice right through. What 
did I think of it ? Weil, some of the stories, 
in fact the greater part of them, are very 
witty, and, alas ! very indecent — " shameful," my 
Aunt Tabitha would call them, adding, " Child, 
remember the words of the poet, — 

* Want of decency is want of sense.' " 

But then many of them are not at all indecent; 
and so, like the heavenly bird that drinks the 
milk and leaves the dirty water, here are some 
pickings may be presented in any society — except 
a charitable one. 

Our young men given to hunting and sport, 


fast-steppers on the Turf, and even our steady- 
going game-preservers may learn something 


We were many of us talking together of the 
exceeding care, not to say the folly, of those who 
keep hounds and hawks for hunting. Then Paul 
of Florence said, " Such fellows were well mocked 
by the Fool of Milan." When we all begged him 
to tell the story, he went on : — 

Once on a time there was a citizen of Milan, a 
leech of mad and witless folk, who undertook to 
heal all who were brought to him within a cer- 
tain time. And his treatment was in this wise. 
He had round his house a yard, and in this yard 
was a pool of foul and stinking water, in which 
he bound to a stake all who were brought to him 
as mad, some of them up to the knees, others as 
far as mid-thigh, and others deeper, according to 
their madness ; so he brought down their flesh 
by water and fasting till they seemed to be sane. 
Among the rest one was brought and placed in 
the pool up to the thigh, who, after a fortnight, 
began to come to himself, and begged the doctor 
to take him out of the water. So he let him 
come out of that place of torment on condition 
that he was not to stir out of the yard. A little 
after, when he had shown himself trustworthy 



for some days, he allowed him to go about the 
house ; and so he left his companions in the pool, 
of whom there were many, and followed the 
doctor's orders in everything. But one day as 
he was standing at the gate — for he dared not go 
beyond it for fear of the pool — he saw a young 
gentleman on horseback coming up with hawk 
on hand, and two greyhounds at his heel, and 
called out to him to come near. Struck with the 
strangeness of the thing, for he had lost all 
memory of what he had seen before his madness, 
when the young man came near, the madman 
called out, " Halloa, you sir, listen to what I ask, 
and answer. This thing on which you are borne, 
what is it ? And why do you keep it }" 

"Tis a horse, and I keep it for the sake of 

Then the madman went on — 

"And this thing that you hold on your 
hand, what is its name, and for what do you 
use it?" 

" A hawk," he replied : " good to catch thrushes 
and partridges." 

Again the other went on — 

" Those which follow you, what sort of things 
are they, and what good are they ?" 

" Dogs," he answered ; " trained to hunt and 
track birds." 

" And these birds, to catch which you keep so 


many things, what is their worth, reckoning up 
all you catch in a year." 

" Oh, a mere song, a trifle — I can't tell : not 
above six golden crowns." 

" And what," said the madman, " is the cost 
of keeping the horse, the hounds, and the 
hawk r" 

" Fifty golden crowns," said the knight. 

Then the madman, wondering at the folly of 
the young knight, burst out laughing. 

" Ho, ho ! take yourself off, I beg, before the 
doctor comes home, for if he finds you here, he'll 
take you for the maddest man in the world, and 
cast you into his pool to be treated with the rest 
of the witless crew, and be sure he'll put you up 
to the chin before all the others, in the very 
deepest spot." 

By this he showed that the desire of hunting 
is the height of folly, unless followed by the rich, 
and even then only for the sake of exercise. 

Strange, too, it is to find in the following 
story an old Indian example out of the Hitopa- 
desa which, under various shapes, haunts Middle- 
Age fiction. Sometimes the quarrel is about a 
scissors, or a knife, or a bird ; always on some 
trivial, worthless ground which woman chooses 


to fight out her right to have the last word. Here 
it is from Poggio : — 


We were once talking of the stubbornness of 
women, who are often so firm of purpose that 
they would rather die than yield their opinion. 
Then one of us said, — 

" There was once a woman in our town whose 
mind was so set against her husband, that she 
never lost a chance of abusing and contradicting 
him. Going on as she had begun, and determin- 
ing to play the first fiddle, once, when she had a 
quarrel with him, she called him lousy. He 
tried to force her to retract the word ; and, at 
last, took to beating her both with fists and feet. 
But the more she was beaten, the more she called 
him lousy. At length, the man, weary of blows, 
that he might tame his wife's tongue, let her 
down by a rope into a well, declaring that he 
would drown her unless she left off using rude 
words : but it was no good, for though the water 
rose to her chin, she still went on worse than 
before, calling out that word. Then the man, to 
stop her tongue, sank her over head and ears in 
the well, trying if by the risk of death he could 
turn her from persisting in her abuse. But she, 
though she had lost the power of speech at the 
very moment of drowning, expressed by her 


fingers what she was unable to utter ; for, stretch- 
ing her hands out above her head, and bringing 
the nails of both thumbs together, she threw back 
the word " lousy " on her husband as far as she 
could by signs ; for lice are commonly killed by 
women by cracking them between their thumb- 

There is real wit in this :— 

A rich man, muffled up in clothes, was on his 
way to Bologna in the winter, and among the 
hills fell upon a peasant who was clad in one 
coat only, and that threadbare. So, wondering 
at the hardihood of the man, in such cold — 
for the snow lay and the wind blew — he asked, 
"Was he not a-cold ?" 

" Not at all," said the other, with a smiling 
face ; and when the rich man was amazed at his 
answer, and said, — 

" Well ! here I freeze under all my clothing, 
and you do not feel the frost half-clad." 

" Ah," said the peasant ; " you too, if like me 
you bore all your clothes on your back, would 
not feel the cold in the least." 


These two stories of Fazino, nicknamed the 


Dog, a well-known condottieri captain, have a 
grim humour of their own. 

" Fazino Can, when by aid of the Ghibelline 
faction he had entered Ticino by agreement, at 
first only sacked the goods of the Guelphs. But 
when he had made an end of them, he began to 
empty the houses of the Ghibellines, as being 
filled with the goods of the Guelphs ; and when 
the Ghibellines complained to the leader that 
they were unworthily robbed, Fazino cried out, 
1 Very true, my children ; ye are all Ghibellines, 
but the goods are Guelphs ;' and so, making no 
distinction of parties, the goods of both were 

A CERTAIN man complained to Fazino Can, 
who was a cruel man and a leading captain of 
our age, that he had been robbed of his cloak by 
one of his soldiers. But Fazino, looking at him, 
and seeing him clad in a good coat, asked if he 
had that on when he was robbed, and when the 
other answered Yes, "Be off about your busi- 
ness/' he said ; " the man whom you say robbed 
you can never be one of my soldiers, for none of 
my men would have left you so good a coat." 

Redolpho of Camerino was a more worthy 


" Of Redolpho of Camerino, a wise saying is 
told. The City of Bologna was besieged by Ber- 
nabo, of the family of the Visconti, lords of 
Milan. But Redolpho, as a man of worth both 
in peace and war, was set over the city as 
governor by the Pope. Redolpho kept within 
the walls to hold the city more safely ; but one 
day when there was a skirmish after a sally, from 
which Redolpho was absent, a knight was taken 
prisoner and brought before Bernabo. Among 
other things Bernabo asked why Redolpho did 
not come out to fight, and the knight having said 
now one thing as the cause, now another, was at 
last sent back into the town. Then Redolpho, 
asking what was going on in the enemy's camp, 
and what Bernabo had said, when he heard the 
question and the knight's answer excusing him 
for not coming out, said, * Thou hast not answered 
well nor wisely: go back and tell Bernabo, 
Redolpho says he does not come out of the city 
lest you should make your way in." 

The same Redolpho, when in the war between 
Gregory X. and the Florentines, he had changed 
sides several times, now clinging to this party, 
now to that, was asked how it was that he was 
always changing. " Because," he said, " I can- 
not lie too long on one side." 


The same Redolpho, when being accused of 
treason by the Florentines, his effigy was painted 
as a traitor in several parts of the city, and yet 
hearing not long after that the Florentines were 
going to send an embassy to him to treat for 
peace, went into his bedroom the very day that 
the embassy was to arrive, and having shut the 
windows and lighted a fire — it was in the month 
of August— got into bed, and had himself covered 
up with furs. Then calling in the ambassadors, 
when they asked from what sickness he was suf- 
fering, — " Of ague," he said, " caught by stand- 
ing so long uncovered night and day in the open 
air on the walls of your city." By this saying 
he mocked at their effigies, which were afterwards 
erased by agreement. 

Some men of Camerino were spending their 
time in archery outside the walls of the town, 
and one of them shot an arrow carelessly, by 
which Redolpho, who was standing a long way 
off, was slightly wounded. The archer being 
seized, various opinions were uttered as to his 
punishment, each one being in turn for a heavier 
sentence, thinking thus to curry favour with the 
prince ; and at last one said his right hand ought 
to be hewn off, so that he might never draw a 
bow again. But Redolpho ordered the man to 


be set free, adding that sentence would have 
been worth something if such counsel had been 
given before he had got his wound ; — an answer 
full of wisdom and gentleness. 

It was the same Redolpho who gave a good 
lesson to Charles III. of Anjou when on an expe- 
dition against Naples. 

There was once a discourse in a company of 
learned men who blamed the empty pains taken 
by those who set their hearts on seeking and 
buying precious stones. This vice Redolpho of 
Camerino derided, who, having gone to pay a 
visit to the camp of the Duke of Anjou, when he 
was aiming at the kingdom of Naples, was shown 
by the duke his most precious treasures, among 
which were pearls, sapphires, carbuncles, and 
other stones of great value. So when Redolpho 
had seen them all, he asked what those stones 
were worth, and what income they brought in. 
" Well," said the duke, " they are worth a great 
deal, but they bring nothing in*" Then said 
Redolpho, " I will show you two stones worth 
ten florins, which bring me in every year two 
hundred," and at once, when the duke wondered 
at his words, took him to a mill which he had 
built, and showing him the two mill-stones, said, 


" These are the stones which surpass your jewels 
in usefulness and worth." 


The fun Poggio makes of the Venetian is end- 
less : here are one or two jokes on their riding. 
Then, as now, they scarce knew what a horse 
was : — 

When some learned men were talking of the 
silliness and stupidity of people they had known, 
Anthony Lusco, the wittiest of men, told us that 
once, when he was going from Rome to Vicenza, 
a Venetian joined company with him, who, as it 
seemed, had seldom mounted a horse. At Sienna 
they turned into an inn, in which very many 
more horsemen had stopped ; and next morning, 
when each man made ready to start, the Venetian 
alone sat at the door idle and booted. Lusco, 
wondering at the sloth and carelessness of the 
man who was taking his ease when all the rest 
were almost on horseback, warned him to mount 
his steed if he meant to journey with him, and 
asked the cause of his delay. Then said the 
other, — 

" I do wish to journey with you ; but the truth 
is, I should never know my horse among all the 
others, and so I am waiting till the rest have 


mounted, for then the horse that is left alone in 
the stable I shall know to be mine." 

When he knew the stupidity of the fellow, 
Lusco waited awhile till that dolt and dullard 
took the last remaining horse for his own. 

A Venetian, once going into the country on 
horseback, kept his spurs in his pocket, and 
when his steed jogged on at a wretched pace, 
dug his heels into his side. 

" Gee up ! gee up ! " he cried ; " if you only 
knew what I've got in my pocket you'd soon 
quicken your pace." 

Another Venetian, on his way to Turin, got 
on a hired horse, while his man followed him on 
foot, and, as they went, the horse kicked the 
servant on the leg, when, snatching up a stone, 
he threw it at the horse, but missed him and hit 
his master in the back. The silly Venetian 
thought it was the horse's doing, and when his 
man, limping after him, was scolded by his 
master for being so slow, — 

"I can't get on faster," he said, "since the 
horse gave me that kick." 

" Never mind him," said the master ; " I see 
he's very skittish, — only just now he gave me a 
great kick in the back." 


Against the clergy in general, and the friars 
in particular, Poggio is very bitter. 

Some friars of the Minorite order made up 
their minds to have a picture of their patron, 
St. Francis, and sent for a painter to paint it ; 
but they could not agree as to how the saint 
should be depicted, some wishing him to be 
shown with the stigmata, some as preaching 
to the people, and some in some other way. 
So, when they had wasted the whole day in 
discussion, and arrived at no result, they left 
the painter in doubt, and went off to bed. But 
the painter, seeing their silliness, and thinking 
himself cheated, painted there and then the 
effigy of the saint " playing on the flute," as it 
is called by some, and by others hanging from 
a halter, with his head on one side ; and, when 
he had done, he left the monastery as fast as he 
could. But the friars, when they came back 
and saw the figure, set about looking for the 
painter that they might pay him off for the insult 
he had done to their founder ; but he had made 
a clean pair of heels of it. 

Here is another bitterer still : — 

In the first war which the Florentines had 
with the late Duke of Milan, it was decreed to 
be a capital matter if any one dared to speak of 

VOL. 11. B B 


making peace. Bernardo Manectio, one of the 
wittiest of men, was in the Old Market to buy I 
know not what, and one of those vagabond 
Mendicant Friars came up to him, who take 
their stand in the streets, and beg from the 
passers-by for their daily bread. The friar 
began to beg in their set phrase, " Peace be 
with you." But Bernardo cried out, " Why do 
you dare to speak of peace ? Don't you know 
that it is as much as your life is worth to utter 
the word ? Go about your business, lest any one 
should think that I abet you in your crime." 
With these words he left the rogue and freed 
himself from his tiresome company. 


The following shows that brigandage was 
just as much at home in Southern Italy then 
as it is now. No doubt many shepherds of 
Apulia still think it a worse crime to taste milk 
in Lent than to cut a traveller's throat. 

A certain shepherd of that part of the king- 
dom of Naples which almost time out of mind 
has practised highway robbery, once went to a 
priest to confess his sins ; and, throwing himself 
at the priest's knees, said, with tears in his 
eyes, — 

" Father, forgive me, for I have sinned 


heavily ; " and when the priest bade him say 
what the sin was, and he had said the same 
words over and over again, as though he had 
committed some atrocious crime, at last at the 
exhortation of the priest he made a clean breast 
of it, and said, — 

" I was making a cheese in Lent, and as I 
pressed it some drops of whey spurted out and 
jumped into my mouth, and I swallowed them." 

Then the friar smiling, and well knowing the 
customs of that country, after saying that he 
had sinned heavily in not keeping Lent, went 
on to ask whether he were guilty of any other 
sins ; and when the shepherd denied it, he asked 
him whether, as is the custom of that region, he 
had robbed or slain any stranger passing through 
the country, with other shepherds. 

" Oh," said he, " I have done both over and 
over again with the rest, and like the rest : for 
you know that is so inborn in us, that it does not 
weigh on our minds at all." 

And when the confessor said that both were 
heavy sins, the penitent declared that robbery 
and murder were light matters, he and his 
neighbours were so used to them ; for them he 
wanted no shrift, but only for the drops of whey. 
So bad a thing is the habit of sinning, which 
makes even the greatest sins look light because 
they are often done. 



Bello is the name of a very rustic town on 
our Apennine Mountains, and in it dwelt a priest 
ruder and more unlearned than the inhabitants. 
One year this fellow, because he knew nothing 
about times and seasons, never gave out the 
arrival of Lent to the people. But going to buy 
something at Terra Nova on the Saturday before 
Palm Sunday, and seeing the priests preparing 
branches of olives and palms for the next day, 
he began to wonder what it all meant, and at 
last saw his mistake, and how he had let Lent 
slip by without any observance by his flock. 
So, when he went back to his town, he got ready 
olive branches and palms for the Sunday. On 
Sunday morning he addressed the people as 
follows : — 

" This is the day on which branches of olives 
and palms are wont to be given out. Eight days 
hence will be Easter. During the next week 
alone we must do penance, nor shall we have a 
longer fast this year, and the reason of it is this : 
the Carnival this year was very slow in coming, 
because, on account of the frost and the badness 
of the roads, it was not able to cross the moun- 
tains, and for the same cause Lent has travelled 
with so slow and weary steps, that now it has 
brought no more than one week with it, all the 


rest being left on the way. For this short time, 
therefore, that it will abide with you, be sure you 
all of you confess and do penance." 


From the following some of our long-winded 
preachers might learn a lesson : — 

There is a town in our hills to which many 
had flocked from various parts, for it was the 
Feast of St. Stephen, and a priest, as was usual, 
was to preach a sermon to the people. But as 
the day was far spent, and the other priests 
began to be hungry and feared a lengthy ser- 
mon, one after the other, as the preacher passed 
them to mount the pulpit, fell a-whispering in 
his ear, and begged him to cut his sermon short. 
The preacher was not slow to take the hint, and 
after a few words of preface went on thus : " My 
brethren, last year, when you stood by and I 
spoke of the holy life and miracles of this our 
saint, I left out nothing that I had either heard 
or read of him in books ; all which things I am 
sure you bear in mind. Since then I do not 
understand that he has done anything new: 
make, then, the sign of the cross, and confess 
your sins and go about your business." 


Here is a story not so much against the Jews 
as many Middle-Age tales : — 


Two Jews, who had their abode at Venice, 
betook them to Bologna, and on the way one 
of them fell ill and died. The survivor, wishing 
to carry his companion's body to Venice, a thing 
forbidden to be done openly, cut him up into 
small bits and put him into a little cask, mixing 
with it spices and honey, so that a strangely 
sweet savour came from the cask. He then 
made over the cask to another Jew journeying 
to Venice, who put it into a barge on the canal 
which leads to Ferrara. It so fell out, for there 
were many more passengers in the barge, that a 
certain Florentine sat down by the cask, and 
when night fell, struck with the sweet savour 
from the cask, and suspecting that something 
good to eat was stowed away in it, he knocked 
open the head of the cask by stealth, and fell to 
tasting what was inside it. So, finding that it 
was most dainty food, by little and little he ate 
up almost all the cask in the night, feeling sure 
that he swallowed something most toothsome. 
But when they got out of the barge at Ferrara, 
the Jew when he lifted up the cask knew at once 
it was empty by its lightness. Then he began 
to bawl out that he had been cheated out of the 


Jew's body, and so the Florentine found out that 
he had turned his body into a Jew's sepulchre. 

Here is a story the end of which is like that 
in Le Grand's Fabliaux, where the wife of a 
peasant persuades her silly husband that he is 
dead. But this is a better version : — 


There was at Florence a half-witted fellow, 
Nigniaca by name, not so far gone in his head 
as not to be a merry companion. Some young 
men made up their minds to make him believe 
that he was very sick; so, having laid their 
plans, one of them met him as he came out of 
doors in the morning, and asked, — 

" What had happened to him that his face was 
so wan and pale ? " 

« Nothing at all ! " said the fool. 

But, when he had gone a little farther, another 
threw himself into his way, and asked if he had 
a fever, his face was so drawn and his cheeks so 

Then the fool began to doubt whether what 
they said were not true. So as he went slowly 
on in fear and fright, a third, as was agreed, as 
soon as he saw him says, — 


"Your face betokens that you are suffering 
from a strong fever ; I'm sure this sickness will 
be sharp." 

This frightened him still more, and he stood 
still, lost in thought, as he weighed in his mind 
whether he really had a fever. 

Just then, a fourth coming up, declared he was 
most dangerously ill. 

" I wonder why you do not keep your bed," 
he said ; and advised him to go home at once, 
offering to go with him and nurse 'him like a 

The fool retraced his steps home as though he 
were weighed down with a sore disease ; and, 
getting into bed, looked for all the world as one 
about to breathe his last. 

The rest of the band came to the house soon 
after, saying that he had done quite right who 
had put Nigniaca to bed. A little while after 
came another, who gave himself out as a doctor, 
felt his pulse, and gave it as his opinion that he 
was seriously ill ; nay, in a short time, he said, 
he must surely die. 

Then all of them standing round the bed 
began to say, one to the other, — 

" Ah ! now he is at the point of death ; now 
his feet grow cold, his tongue babbles, his eyes 
grow dim." And, very soon after, one said, 
" See, he has breathed his last ! Let us then 


close his eyes, and lay his hands straight, and 
bear him out and bury him/' 

Then another went on, — 

" Oh, what a loss is here, in this man's death ! 
We have lost a good and true friend." 

So they went on comforting one another. 

The fool all the while spoke not a word, as 
became a dead man ; and made up his mind 
that he was really dead. So, when the young 
men had laid him on the bier, and were bearing 
him through the city, they told some others, who 
met them and asked what was the matter, that 
they were bearing Nigniaca, who was dead, to 
the grave. 

While they spoke, many more ran together to 
see the sight ; and, when they were told the 
same story, that Nigniaca was dead and about 
to be buried, one of the tavern-haunters bawled 
out, — 

" Oh, what a beast he was ; a thief of the 
worst kind, and surely worthy of a halter ! " 

Then the fool, when he heard that, lifted up 
his head and cried out, — 

" Were I alive as I am dead, you scoundrel, I 
would say you lied in your throat ! " 

Then all the bearers burst out laughing and 
ran away, and left the fool on his bier. 


The next is an old story to be found in Le 
Grand's Fabliaux; but even our bishops must 
admire the dexterity of the priest, though they 
may not approve of burying a dog in conse- 
crated earth. They will not fail to observe the 
summary way which this Italian prelate had of 
correcting clerks. Here, in England, it might 
have cost him four or five thousand pounds 
spent in the Arches Court to punish the 
offender : — 


There was a priest in Tuscany of great 
wealth. This priest buried his dog, who was 
very dear to him, in the churchyard. The bishop 
got to know this ; and, setting his heart on the 
priest's money, called him before him to be 
punished as guilty of the greatest sacrilege. 
The priest, who well knew what the bishop had 
at heart, brought fifty gold crowns with him, and 
went before the bishop ; who, severely blaming 
the burial of the dog, bade them drag the priest 
away to prison. But the cunning priest broke 

" Oh, my father, if you only knew the wisdom 
of that dog, you would not wonder that he de- 
served to be buried among Christian men ; for 
he was more than human in his life, and still 
more in his death." 


" What is all this ? " asked the bishop. 

" He made his will before he died/' said the 
priest ; " and, knowing your poverty, he left you 
fifty golden crowns as a bequest, which I have 
here with me." 

Then the bishop, approving both the will and 
the burial, pocketed the money and absolved the 

Cyriac of Ancona, a wordy man and much 
given to talk, was once deploring in our presence 
the fall and ruin of the Roman empire, and seemed 
to be vehemently grieved at it. Then Anthony 
Lusco, a most learned man, who also stood by, 
said, jeering at the silly grief of the fellow, "He 
is very like a man of Milan who, hearing on a 
feast day one of the race of minstrels who are 
wont to sing the deeds of departed heroes to the 
people, reciting the death of Roland, who was 
slain about seven hundred years before in battle, 
fell at once a-weeping bitterly, and when he got 
home to his wife, and she saw him sad and sigh- 
ing, and asked what was the matter, ' Alas ! 
alas ! wife,' he said, ' we are as good as dead 
and gone/ 'Why, man,' she answered, 'what 
dreadful thing has befallen you ? Take comfort 
and come to supper.' But he, when he went on 
sobbing and sighing, and would take no food, 
and his wife pressed him to tell the cause of his 


woe, at last said, * Don't you know the bad news 
I have heard to-day?' 'What?' asked the wife. 
* Roland is dead, who alone was the safeguard of 
Christendom/ On which his wife tried to soothe 
the silly grief of her husband, and yet, with all 
her tenderness, could scarce get him to sit down 
to meat." 

This story was capped by another, who told 
this story of silliness : — " One of my neighbours, 
a simple man, once heard one of the same kind 
of ballad singers, who, at the end of his story, 
in order to entice the people to come to hear 
him, said, ( To-morrow I will sing the death of 
Hector/ But this neighbour of mine, before the 
ballad-singer went away, bargained with him for 
a sum of money not to kill Hector off so quickly, 
a man so doughty in arms. And when the 
singer put it off till the day after, the simpleton 
went on paying him, day after day, to respite 
Hector's life, and only at last, when all his 
money was spent, heard the story of his death 
told with grief and tears." 

The following also forms the subject of one of 
Le Grand's Fabliaux. "A certain man, not at 
all wealthy, and of rather weak health, having 
betrothed a wife, was bidden to supper by the 
bride's parents, and he brought with him a friend, 


whom he begged to back him up in all he said. 
So, when the father-in-law praised his own coat, 
the son-in-law said he had one far better than 
that. On which the friend broke in, * Ah ! but 
you have another much more costly besides that.' 
When the father-in-law asked what goods he 
had, he said he had a farm just outside the town, 
on the yield of which he lived. ' But/ said the 
friend, ' you have forgotten that other farm, far 
better tilled, out of which you draw so much 
money.' So the friend went on doubling every- 
thing of which the son-in-law boasted. But 
when they sat down to meat, and the father-in- 
law pressed the son-in-law, who had little appe- 
tite, to take his food, he said, ' I can't, for I never 
feel very well in summer.' Here again the friend, 
to help him out, cried out, 'Very true. He is 
much worse than he says, for he is bad in summer, 
but far worse in winter.' When he said this, all 
laughed at the boasting of this silly fellow, who 
laid himself out to praise falsely, and bore off 
the prize of folly." 

Here we have almost the first 


When I was in England I heard a witty say- 
ing of a certain master of a merchant-ship who 


was an Irishman. The ship was once tossed 
about at sea by great waves, and was so shat- 
tered by the tempest, that all on board despaired 
of being saved. The master vowed a wax candle 
as big as. the ship's mast to a certain church of 
the Virgin Mary, which was already famous for 
such miracles, if the ship got through the tem- 
pest in safety. Then, when one of his com- 
panions blamed the vow as most hard to pay, 
since there was not, he said, in all England wax 
enough to make such a candle : " Oh ! hold your 
peace/' said the master, " and let me promise 
what I please to the mother of God ; only let us 
get out of this danger, for, if we are saved, she 
will have to be content with a farthing rush- 

This is the story which Erasmus has worked 
up into his "Dialogue of the Shipwreck," but 
the Irishman has dropped out of it. 

" One I heard, not without laughing, who, in a 
loud voice, lest he should not be heard, promised 
to St. Christopher, who stands at Paris on the 
top of a church, a mountain rather than a statue, 
a wax taper as big as the statue itself. And 
when he had gone on bawling the same vow out 
over and over again, an acquaintance of his, who 
by chance stood next to him, jogged him with 
his elbow, and warned him in a whisper, " Mind 
what you promise. If you sold all your goods 


by auction you would not be able to fulfil your 

Then the other, in a still lower voice, for fear 
lest St. Christopher should hear him : " Peace, 
fool ! do you think I spoke from my heart ? If I 
only once touch land I will not give him a tallow 

The next story, till lately, held good as much 
in Italy in this as in the fifteenth century. The 
hospitals, full of idle, filthy beggars, were then, 
as now, the curse of the country. 


The Cardinal of Bari, a Neapolitan by birth, 
held a hospital at Vercelli, out of which he drew 
little or no revenue on account of the cost of 
maintaining the poor in it. He sent, therefore, 
one of his servants, a certain Petrillo, to collect 
money ; but he, when he found the hospital 
crammed with all kinds of sick and weakly folk, 
who swallowed up all the revenue of the place, 
having donned the garb of a doctor, went into 
the hospital ; and, after inspecting all sorts of 
sores, called all the inmates together, and 
said, — 

" There is but one remedy for all your sores. 


Let an ointment be made out of man's fat. I 
will therefore cast lots among you to-day, and 
so choose one who must be put into a pot and 
boiled for the good of all the rest." 

But they one and all fled in fear as soon as 
they heard these words, lest the lot of death 
should fall on them. In that way he freed the 
hospital from the cost of maintaining those filthy 


The three following anecdotes relate to Dante, 
and are alike characteristic of the man and his 
age, of the "Dog" Prince, and the Divine 
Poet :— 

Dante Alighieri, our Florentine poet, was once 
maintained at Verona by the help of the old 
Can Prince de la Scala pretty liberally. But, at 
the same time, there was another Florentine 
at Can's Court, a low-born, ignorant, impudent 
fellow, fit for naught but jests and jeers, whose 
sillinesses, not to say ribaldry, had driven Can 
to enrich him. And when Dante, a most learned 
as well as wise and modest man, despised him 
as was right, — 

"What," he said, "is the reason that you, 
though you are esteemed most wise and learned, 


are still poor and needy; while I, foolish and 
ignorant, excel in riches ? " 

Then Dante : 

" When I shall find a master like myself, and 
fitted to my manners, as you have found one 
fitted to yours, he in like manner will enrich 

A wise and weighty answer ; for masters are 
always delighted with the company of those who 
are like themselves. 

Dante once sitting at meat between the two 
Scaligers, the old Dog and the young Dog, the 
servants of both, to curry favour with them, 
threw their bones secretly at the feet of Dante 
to provoke him to wrath. 

When the board was removed, the eyes of all 
were turned on Dante, and all wondered how it 
could be that bones were to be seen before him 
alone. Then he, quick at answer as he ever was, 
said, — 

"No wonder that the dogs have eaten their 
bones, but as for me, I am not a dog." 

Our poet Dante, when in exile at Sienna, was 
once standing in the Church of the Minorites, 
VOL. II. c C 


resting his elbow on the altar, and deep in 
thought, pondering some hidden matter. Just 
then, some one came up to him and asked some 
tiresome question. Then Dante said, — 

" Tell me which is the biggest of all beasts ? " 
"The elephant," answered the other. 
" Then, elephant," said Dante, " don't be 
troublesome to me when I am thinking of 
things far deeper than your words." 

How many " elephants," though we are none 
of us Dantes, do we not all know ? 


The penance enjoined in the following, 
would be well bestowed on many writers now- 
adays : — 

A man of Milan, whether fool or hypocrite, or 
witless, wrote a whole bookful of his sins, and 
went to a very learned man, and one well versed 
in such things, Anthony Rodi of Milan, a 
Minorite friar, to confess. As soon as he saw 
the friar he held out the book, and asked the 
father to read it, as it contained his confession. 
So when the wary man knew that to read it 
would waste much time, and saw through the 
folly of the man, having asked the wordy fellow 


a few questions, he went on, — " I absolve thee of 
everything contained in this book." And when 
the other asked what penance he enjoined, the 
answer was, " That for a month from this day, 
thou readest this thy book through seven times 
a day." And when he said it could not be done, 
the confessor stuck to his shrift, and so the 
wordiness of the fool was crushed by a witty 

French cooks then as now bore off the palm 
in their art. 

The old Duke of Milan, who was a prince of 
singular refinement in all things, had a famous 
cook, whom he had sent all the way to France to 
learn to make sauces. In the great war which 
the duke had with the Florentines, when a mes- 
senger had come bearing no very good news, 
and the duke's mind was very vexed, at dinner, 
a little after, when the meat was served, the 
duke could find nothing to his taste, and de- 
spised the dishes as badly cooked. After that he 
sent for the cook, and scolded him smartly, as 
knowing nothing of his art. Then the cook, 
who was rather free of speech, said, " If the 
Florentines take your taste and appetite, what 
fault is that of mine ? My dishes are all tooth- 
some, and made with the greatest art ; but these 


Florentines throw you into a rage, and steal 
away your appetite." Then the duke, who was 
the gentlest man in the world, laughed heartily 
at the witty freedom of his cook's tongue. 

It was this same cook who, when many were 
asking all sorts of promotion from the duke, one 
night at supper, humbly prayed his master to 
make him an ass. 

When the duke wondered and asked what 
he meant by wishing to be an ass rather than 
a man, " Why," replied the cook, " because I 
see that all these whom you have raised to the 
highest rank, and on whom you have lavished 
honours and office, are so puffed up with pride 
and pomp, that they have turned into insolent 
asses ; and so, I ask you to make me too an 

And so with these biting words of the cook 
our Pickings from Poggio come to an end. 



Date Due 

Demco 293-5 


1 l?n D1D3M EMflS